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James Tyrrell


James had hardly touched a camera when he came to Londolozi, but his writing skills that complemented his Honours degree in Zoology meant that he was quickly snapped up by the Londolozi blog team. An environment rich in photographers helped him develop the ...

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on Are Leopards Successful Hunters?

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Interesting. I am sure we do not see or know half of what is happening out in the bush once it get dark.

Hyenas were victors in 3 of the recent incidents we viewed. In another “theft” a male leopard stole the impala from a female.

Sounds about right…

James I notice you focused this article on the beautiful and plentiful Leopards. Are lions as susceptible to being robbed of their kill as leopards seem to be

Not at Londoz, certainly.
We don’t often see intense lion-hyena interaction as the hyena population generally manages fins imply scavenging from leopards; they tend to give lions a wide berth. Over big kills we do sometimes see conflict between them, but lions in the area are usually more likely to get robbed by other lions. This doesn’t often happen though, and as mentioned earlier, has to be on a big kill as smaller ones are generally finished quite quickly…

Interesting post! Research from Phinda found 20% success rate overall if I remember correctly, compiling day and night hunts on all species in all terrains, but had low kill theft due to low densities of other competitors at Phinda. A recent study from the Sabi sands found hyaenas stole 11% of leopard kills and were responsible for half of all thefts. This is all averages of course, some leopards may completely avoid theft whereas others as you say do quite poorly. Always a fascinating area to look into!

The 3 Rivers female is learning fast – make the kill and hoist it straightaway! James, do you think the hyena population is so high on Londolozi because there is such a high number of leopards? I would imagine hyenas would rarely be able to scavenge from a wild dog pack or a pride of lions, whereas a solitary leopard is much more vulnerable.

Hi James great blog there are some new names of female leopards in the blogs recently (three rivers) and others we do not hear much about eg Ndzanzeni (not her son) and nhlanguleni for example. Would be really interested in a map and blog on current territories.

Hi Mike,
Absolutely! Full profiles update coming soon…

You pose an interesting question and make several great points. I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure, but it’s fun to consider all the possibilities. I’m just glad we don’t regularly have to worry about getting mugged after a trip to the grocery store. 😉

James, great blog today. I know leopards are notorious killers of Impala and the likes. So great for you to tell the story of how successful they really are.

Very interesting blog, James. There are so many different aspects to Leopard / Lion / Hyena and Wild Dogs’ various types of hunting that it would indeed be very difficult to get accurate stats I should think. It would also depend on what sort of prey there was and whether it was during Winter (dry and more open) and Summer (wet and with denser Bush) – and not to mention whether it was Bush country or more Trees or more open grass land. Wendy M

I knew that leopards were lower on the totem pole for eating their kills. It always concerned me a bit, but upon reflection it seems they are faring well inspite of the lower percentage. I remain even more respectful of a female leopard who must hunt to feed her cubs at the generally lower percentage. The pressure is really on….

Another fascinating blog James. It seems the clever leopards move their kill to the nearest tree immediately, whilst others perhaps hesitate to feed a bit, and then are chased away by the hyenas. Do cheetahs face the same dilemma as leopards as many of their kills are solitary, thereby making them more vulnerable to losing their meal?

You’ve really got to take such statistics with a pinch of salt, as they are based on estimates and observations. Success rates will definitely differ based on the individual hunting, the prey species and the area.

Ooooh! now I know whose paw it is…. Such a great picture of the Three Rivers female, especially in your earlier blog (with the zoom in). Thanks James!

Correct Jacqueline 😉

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