You will recall on this week’s most recent Week in Pictures that there was a sighting of the Makotini male chasing a male cheetah from his traditional hunting grounds. Picking up on this story, here are some more photographs showcasing this unusual (but not uncommon) interaction between two of the Kruger National Park’s most iconic predators. The cheetah and the leopard are often confused with one another by first time safari goers owing to their similarity in size, dappled markings and colour of their fur. With that said, here is a more comprehensive breakdown as to what the difference between these two predators is.
Ranger Kevin Power was a lucky witness of this interaction, and explains how this sighting unfolded: “The cheetah had been found in the open grasslands of Londolozi and as we were finding our way into the sighting my tracker, Ray Mabilane, sighted the Makotini Male Leopard also walking through the savannah. The Makotini male was still about 300 meters away from the cheetah at that stage and the distance was only growing as the cheetah moved steadily in the opposite direction. We decided to stay with the Makotini male for about 10 minutes before he lay down on a large termite mound in the middle of these open grasslands. As we were about to leave him, the male cheetah suddenly change direction and began making his way towards our position, oblivious to the impending confrontation…
This was the first time I had seen an interaction between these two predators and although I always knew that a cheetah would stand down to a leopard I did not realise the intensity to which the leopard channeled his aggression. What I also found really interesting was that we were driving in a typical habitat for cheetah and had no thought of even bumping into a leopard which prefers denser bush and drainage lines. Much like ourselves, the cheetah was probably not expecting to bump into the leopard either and it was another great lesson from the wilderness as to why you should never be too complacent in your own environment. Sometimes the most unexpected surprises are waiting for you in the most familiar places.
Written by: Kevin Power
Photographed by: Lucien Beaumont & Kevin Power