A young leopard tries to help an injured impala stand. Does it want to eat the little lamb or play with it?
Nachi Mirkin had the privilege of witnessing this incredible moment and shared it with LatestSightings.com.
“While on a game drive in the Kruger National Park, I stumbled upon a young leopard who seemed very interested in something that was lying in the long grass.”
“It was a young newborn impala lamb. What I witnessed next was both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. The newborn lamb fascinated the young leopard. The leopard prodded and nudged it around as if it were trying to help it to its feet.”
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Impala lambs are a common sight in the African savannah during the rainy season. Female impalas give birth to their young after a gestation period of six to seven months. These lambs are born with an incredible instinct to survive, and they can stand and walk within minutes of being born.
“At first, I thought the leopard was trying to play with the lamb. But as I watched, it became clear that the leopard was just inexperienced and did not know how to kill and eat it. He continued to use his paw to try and move the lamb around, but the little lamb was just so shocked that it did not move.”
Impala lambs are highly vulnerable to predators like lions, hyenas, and leopards. In fact, it is estimated that up to 50% of impala lambs do not survive their first year.
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Young leopards face a similar challenge in their early years. While they may have the instinct to hunt and kill, it takes years of practice and experience to perfect their skills. Inexperienced young leopards often struggle to hunt and feed themselves.
“In the end the young leopard picked up the little impala and moved off into the thickets. The little lamb was still kicking and one can only assume that the inevitable took place and the leopard was eventually rewarded with a hearty meal..”