By Earth Touch October 26 2016It's like an episode of Tom and Jerry in the African bush...
Safari guide Kevin Van Der Linde and his coworkers were enjoying a drive through South Africa's Balule Game Reserve recently when they spotted a leopard rummaging in a nearby bush – a meal clearly on its mind. "We tried to identify what it was chasing," he told Latest Sightings. The team initially thought the big cat's target was a dassie (or rock hyrax), but when the small animal eventually poked its head out, it turned out to be a slender mongoose (Galerella sanguinea).
"[The chase] was a very rare sighting for all of us (as you might have heard in the video)," says Van Der Linde. "It was an ongoing game raising our excitement levels and curiosity to see how it would play out, but after about ten minutes of the leopard aimlessly circling the bush, it finally lost interest and gave up."
This isn't the first time we've seen a mongoose evade a feline foe: back in 2014, one was spotted in Kenya's Masaai Mara National Park ferociously defending itself against four young lionesses.
We don't know whether the quartet of big cats actually intended to eat their small quarry, but South Africa's leopards, especially ageing ones, are known to hunt mongoose. In fact, one old female in MalaMala Game Reserve was given the nickname "mongoose killer" after she was seen taking down four mongoose in one go.
"It is common for older leopards to begin hunting small rodents, mongoose, birds and other dangerous reptiles – often to their detriment," explains MalaMala ranger Matt Nolden. "As a leopard ages, it lacks the strength and speed to stalk and kill larger mammals like impala and bushbuck. Thus they attempt to capture more vulnerable, but often dangerous, animals. Porcupines and black mambas are but two good examples of animals which older leopards are regularly injured by."
Top header image: Jessica Shippee/Flickr