Leopards, being solitary cats are supreme opportunists and will opt for getting food by means that require the least expenditure of energy. This means having a versatile and very broad diet. Leopards feed on a greater diversity of prey than any other African cat. At Londolozi leopards are known to prey on at least 32 species and in sub-Saharan Africa their hunting tally exceeds 100 species. Anything from insects, rodents, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish, small to medium sized antelope and sometimes even smaller predators (such as jackals or by the rare chance another leopard). Most of the time attacks on small creatures like birds, rodents and fish are seldom seen and usually the prey is consumed quickly and without any trace of it ever happening.
We were fortunate to see one of these rare spectacles while following the Tamboti Female. She was moving through a very thick area and used a couple of termite mounds as elevated points to scan and plan her next move. Before she did this she gave the tip of her tail a flick from side to side. Suddenly her body language changed, she went flat, frozen and completely blended into her natural habitat. We thought she must have seen something that we couldn’t. In broad daylight, we then noticed the scrub hare that she was fixated on, 15 meters in front of her. She showed every bit of her experience. After roughly 5 minutes she slowly lifted her head and once again instinctively, yet calculated, made her next move. She backed up, silently stalked around a thicket until she was 6 meters away. After 15 minutes we could feel the tension in the air, which often comes with watching a leopard in full stalk. She then exploded with such power and speed, a single embrace to the scrub hares head split its life. The hunt was over.
Written, Photographed and Filmed by: Don Heyneke