Spotted in Kruger: leopard’s six-minute battle with a python

2012-09-26 00:00

HUNGER is the best appetiser, as a leopard proved when it recently caught a large python in the Kruger Park.

The catch caused great excitement for Michelle and Anton Campbell-Harris, of Somerset-West.

They came upon the snake within two hours of their entry through the Phabeni gate.

“We could not believe our luck when we came upon the giant, three-metre long reptile at a pool of water in a ditch next to the S1 road near Skukuza,” Anton Campbell-Harris said.

The next moment a leopard emerged from the bush. The cat carefully approached the big snake and planned its attack for several minutes.

The leopard then circled the snake and attacked, clamping its canines deep into the snake’s thick neck, just behind its head.

Anton said the snake fought back with everything it had, hissing and curling in an attempt to get the cat into a stranglehold.

The fight lasted for about six minutes before the snake succeeded in shaking off the leopard and escaped into the water.

“The leopard walked to the edge of the pool, but seemed very cautious to enter the deep water,” said Anton.

They did not see the snake again. After a while the couple continued on their game drive.

When they returned about three hours later they saw the leopard in a tree near the pool, eating something.

“A piece of whatever it was eating fell from the tree and it looked like a snake’s head,” said Anton.

Dr Danie Pienaar, head of the scientific services and a predator specialist at Kruger, said leopards were opportunistic hunters and that the big cats would event eat insects and attack an elephant calf.

But Pienaar has not heard of a leopard catching a large python.

The strangest leopard catches on his park records are of a leopard catching a crocodile and another attacking a cheetah.

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