This heartbreaking sighting took place in the central-eastern parts of MalaMala game reserve. A pride of lions trap an old leopard up a tree. The leopard panics and jumps from the tree into the pride of lions, who then attack it!
35-Year-old senior game ranger Michael Botes experienced this disturbing moment and shared the story with LatestSightings.com:
“We were on an afternoon safari and made our way to join a sighting of 12 sub-adult members of the Kambula lion pride. En route, we found the Mlowathi male leopard in a marula tree, close to where the lions were. I stayed with the leopard because the lions were walking in that direction anyway. The two sightings merged.”
“At first I was concerned for the leopard, but both species had spotted each other and seemed unbothered. The lions moved off and settled around a waterhole whilst the leopard groomed itself. The majority of the pride fell asleep, except for one female who kept a close eye on the leopard.”
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“The leopard eventually got down the tree, and had it not been for the one observant female, it would have evaded 12 lions unharmed.”
“The leopard soon realized its mistake and instinctively ran to a second marula tree and climbed up to avoid the lions. The lions gathered around the trunk of the tree with the leopard hissing at them from above. A young lioness climbed up the tree and the leopard panicked and jumped out. Sadly, although landing without injury, it was surrounded by the lions. After 30 minutes of fighting, one of the lionesses got a stranglehold on the leopard’s neck and bit down. Every single lion was bleeding at this point from cuts made by the leopard’s claws.”
“I could hear his spinal cord snap and he then died.”
“In my 16 years in the bush I’ve never seen anything like this, and I have spoken to a lot of guides that have been in the industry their whole lives, and no one has seen this happening. I think it happens more often than we realize though. As guides, we often stumble upon the remains of leopards that have been attacked and killed by lions and other predators. But to see it happening is just a matter of timing.”
“Even though it’s hard to watch, it was interesting to witness such a rare yet disturbing sighting.”
“My advice to anybody experiencing a similar sighting would be to make sure there is ample space for the interaction to take place without the vehicles interfering. This was an incredibly hard sighting to watch and as a guide, you should always just remember to calm your guests down and try to explain to them that unfortunately, predators are in competition with each other for territory. It is important to remember our role as guides is to observe and by no means interfere. This leopard would have died regardless of us being there to bear witness to the events or not.”
“If the leopard stayed in the first tree maybe he would have survived this. I’m sure during his +/- 14 years of life, he outran and survived many lions, but taking on 12 young lions eager to prove themselves was a fatal mistake.”
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“Despite this being one of the worst sightings I’ve ever witnessed – I have a lot more respect and understanding of the power and will to survive of both these big cat species.”
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