An absolutely fascinating predator interaction occurred close to Okuti in the Moremi Game Reserve and was reported by Ker & Downey Botswana's guide Alex.
As Alex’s guests were due to leave camp that afternoon at the end of their safari, he felt it would be a good idea to leave Okuti early to cover as much ground as possible and hopefully finish the safari on a really high note. Well, his plans worked out better than they could ever have expected! As Alex pointed out, in this case the early bird truly did catch the worm!
“After only 10 minutes drive from Okuti, I spotted a leopard in a nearby tree and shortly afterwards noticed fresh wild dog tracks on the road. I considered that there was an excellent chance that the leopard might have been chased by the dogs and taken refuge in the tree. Wild dogs will attack and kill a leopard given the opportunity, considering them competitors for prey. It was a great start to our game drive!
Within few minutes the leopard dropped down from the tree and we followed him for some time, enjoying this exciting sighting. The leopard was clearly hunting, and cautiously approached a nearby kudu but was spotted and with a brief alarm call, the kudu fled. At that moment several impala exploded from the nearby undergrowth, clearly being pursued by a predator and ran directly towards the leopard! Clearly the imminent threat of the pursuing predator meant that the impala hadn’t noticed the leopard lying directly in their path. As the last impala passed, the leopard pounced, grabbing its prey by the throat within several feet of our vehicle.
Clearly being aware of the nearby wild dogs the leopard released the impala’s throat, and quickly dragged the impala to a nearby leadwood tree. A leopard is capable of pulling twice its own body weight into a tree to prevent other predators or scavengers from stealing it, and will return to feed over the course of several days. In this case the leopard was likely still winded from his struggle with the impala and could only manage to drag the impala about 1.5 m up the tree before the wild dogs appeared on the scene. The leopard quickly retreated to the safety of higher branches and was forced to sit for the next several hours while the wild dogs made an excellent, if very gory, meal of the lower half of the impala! One can only hope that the wild dogs left that evening, allowing the leopard enough time to save the upper half of his prey before the hyenas appeared!”