In a sign of the often brutal nature of life in the African wild, a tourist in South Africa encountered a leopard which had killed a cheetah, stole its prey, then hung the bodies of both animals from a branch.
The shocking scene was witnessed and captured on camera by a tourist who posted her experience on the forum Safaritalk. According to the tourist, who posted under the name Sharifa, she was traveling along a road in Kruger National Park when she came upon the bodies of a dead impala and a cheetah draped in a tree, while a leopard dined on the antelope’s carcass.
While no one can be sure of what occurred that resulted in the grisly spectable, it’s presumed that it began when the cheetah chased down an impala and made a successful kill. Unfortunately for the cheetah, however, a murderous bandit was lying in wait.
The leopard snuck up on the unsuspecting cheetah and killed it, claiming the prey for its own. The leopard then dragged the impala to a tree to enjoy its free meal, and at some point brought along its victim for good measure.
Leopards will commonly drag prey into trees, in order to eat a kill without the interference of competing predators. It’s unclear though, why the cheetah was also hung from the branches. Sharifa reported the leopard did not eat the cheetah, but dropped it to the ground the next morning.
Whether the big cat was acting out of instinct, or displaying some macabre trophy of war, the leopard’s rare behavior made for a once-in-a-lifetime sight.
It’s a picture-perfect image of the harsh reality of Africa, where nature can be beautiful but cruel. In the fight for survival, no one is completely safe, and even a predator at the top of the food chain has to watch its back.