WATCH | Power vs speed: cheetah walks right into leopard in Kruger

13 July 2020 - 05:20 By Unathi Nkanjeni

Visitors at the Kruger National Park were treated to a rare sighting of power and speed when a leopard jumped on an unsuspecting cheetah.

Thokozani Phakathi caught the moment during an early morning drive from the Pretoriuskop camp towards Skukuza.

The 40-year-old told Latest Sighting that the unforgettable encounter was a hair-raising, blood-curdling and exhilarating moment.

Day visitors are allowed to visit the Kruger and other SA National Parks under level 3 lockdown.

“It was a very quiet drive but we were enjoying the greenery, the sunrise, the bush sounds and the entire refreshing atmosphere. As we were heading towards dam vicinity around 6am, boom, a huge male leopard patrolling and scent-marking the territory,” said Phakathi.

“The leopard was walking along the road, and would sometimes go deeper into the bush but would come back again. As it was Sunday morning, most guests were making their way out of the park, so they didn’t spend much time with the beast. Whenever he went deeper, they would lose interest and leave the sighting. We stayed on and drove over 2km with the elusive cat.”

Phakathi said the leopard switched into predator mode after hearing a cheetah calling.

“At this point, the leopard was already in stalking mode — tip-toeing, squatting on the road and focused on the target. We suddenly noticed a young male cheetah also scent-marking but with a frantic and distressed call.

“It appeared as if he was looking for a missing family member or had been kicked out of the coalition. The sneaky opportunistic leopard moved swiftly and positioned itself exactly where the unsuspecting cheetah would pass, using a tree trunk as a shield and buffer right next to our car,” said Phakathi.

With the cheetah just a few metres away, the leopard jumped. The cheetah jolted with shock, but managed to free itself and escape.