We had set out to find her and it did not take long. Lying up in a tree we had discovered the Vomba Young Female at exactly the right time. Moments later she cascaded down the heavyset trunk of the Marula and momentarily disappeared into the long grass. Frantically our eyes searched until she gracefully leapt onto a fallen stump, reappearing for us all to see. Cautiously glancing left then right her ears pricked suddenly before she sunk once again into the lush summer bushveld. A short distance away, we too caught the unsuspecting bleats of young impala lambs in the clearing….
By the time we rounded into the open grassland, the Vomba Young Female was in full stride. Her muscular pulse pushed her forward as she covered the distance to the impala lamb in seconds….
It is common for leopards, especially mature females to play with their prey before killing it. In the case of maternal leopards they do so to allow their sub-adults to experience live prey and practice the motions of bringing it down.
For young females, like the Vomba Young Female, it is more of a cat and mouse game. The impala lambs are naive and do not know whether to flee or stand their ground. More often than not the instinct will kick in and the lamb will flee, however when shock sets in the lamb remains still in its confusion. For the leopard, the natural instinct to chase and kill is softened slightly by a prey that does not run from it…and so the catlike playing begins.
This is not the first time we have witnessed the Vomba Young Female playing with her prey. Take a look at this post of her playing with a mongoose before killing it.
I’d be very interested to hear your comments about the reasons behind this leopard’s actions. Let me know in the comments section below.
Filmed by: Stoff Kane-Berman