Already this leopard has acquired some local fame as the “De Laporte female” – named for the waterhole where she’s set up shop, a popular man-made waterhole in the renowned Kruger National Park.
It would seem that practice makes perfect. Her modus operandi? With characteristic stealth and silence, she efficiently hides herself in some thick bushes near the waterhole and settles down to wait patiently.
It’s dry season in Kruger, seriously dry. As you'd expect, she doesn't usually have long to wait before an unsuspecting herd of impala or other small antelope come down to drink at the waterhole. With the patience of a predator, she waits for the perfect moment. When the herd appears to relax and let down their guard or one of the impala seems in the perfect position for her attack, she makes her move.
With unbelievable speed and agility, she rushes forward, scaring her prey so that it slips on the steep sloping sides of the waterhole and into the water. In milliseconds, she follows it into the water and drowns the antelope with an efficient snout grip; keeping her mouth over its mouth and nose to smother it, rather than the usual throat grip.
Once she's sure the animal is successfully dead, she effortlessly hoists it up the steep side of the waterhole. On this occasion, she dragged it off to a dry river bed where she proceeded to enjoy a quick snack before dragging the remaining feast off to her little cub, waiting patiently at a rocky hideaway close by.
By all accounts, the "De Laporte Female" has adopted and perfected this killing method which has been witnessed at least three times that we’re aware of. Our head guide, Simon Vegter, has been lucky enough to witness and photograph it twice. The first time, she, unfortunately, lost her kill and barely escaped with her life when a pride of lion happened by and heard the commotion, stealing the prey for themselves as can be seen in this video.
It’s a rare privilege to see a leopard in the wild as they’re secretive, elusive and incredibly well camouflaged. To witness a kill is the stuff safari dreams are made of. Leopards display incredible speed, strength and agility and for their size, are the strongest cats, able to carry twice their body weight up into vertical treetops.
Simon has been fortunate enough to witness five leopard kills on our Kruger Park safaris during the past year.
Have you ever seen a leopard kill? We’d love to hear about it. Please share your story with us in the comments below.
About the author
A 'word smith' or copywriter with over 25 years experience, love travelling, wildlife and conservation; fascinated by alternative energy, alternative building and alternative health. Consummate reader and traveller, both internationally and southern Africa. Have two remarkable daughters that continue to amaze and teach me daily. Consider myself privileged to live on the best continent on the planet.