Baby antelope nuzzles up to a LEOPARD as it mistakes it for its mother

Baby antelope nuzzles up to a LEOPARD as it mistakes it for its mother

February 6, 2019

Baby antelope nuzzles up to a LEOPARD and appears to mistake it for its mother, baffling the predator… before making the mistake of running away and the killer cat’s instincts kick in

  • Leopard scared away impala mother who just gave birth, leaving the little newborn calf behind
  • Video footage shows the newborn impala nuzzling up to the leopard, who initially reciprocates
  • However, once it finds its bearings and runs from the danger, the leopard gives chase and kills it
  • The incident took place in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve in north-east South Africa

This is the incredible moment a newborn impala licks and nuzzles a leopard, perhaps confusing it for its mother while unaware that the big cat had frightened her off just moments earlier.

The baby antelope was still wet from the birth and amazingly, the male leopard appears to be so shocked by the calf’s behaviour that he licks it back.

Video footage shows the two getting acquainted for a moment or two, before the calf realises the danger and starts to run away – sealing its own fate. 

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    Hello there: The baby impala nuzzles up to the leopard, completely unaware that the predator just scared off its mother

    Moment of peace: Seemingly taken aback by the fact that the baby impala did not run, the leopard nuzzles and licks the calf

    The ranger who filmed these amazing scenes in South Africa believes the fact the impala did not try to run away suppressed the killer instinct of the mature male leopard.

    Darren Muller, 32, a Field Guide at Inyata Game Lodge said: ‘I have read about rare incidents when a female big cat befriends a baby but never heard of a leopard doing this.


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    ‘Even more unusual is the fact this is a male leopard yet he was not posing any threat to the baby impala who was standing in front of it and they were both nuzzling’.

    The video, posted on the YouTube page of Capture the Wild, was filmed from a safari truck driving through the Sabi Sands Game Reserve which adjoins the world famous Kruger National Park in north-east South Africa.

    Mr Muller can be heard saying:’It is still alive, they are licking at each other. It is just born and the leopard is just licking at it’. 

    All over: As soon as the baby impala realises the danger, it starts to run and the leopard gives chase

    No chance: The baby leopard effectively sealed its own fate when it tried to outrun the predator in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve in north-east South Africa

    Easy win: Video footage captured during a safari trip shows the leopard kicking the baby’s legs out from under it

    However after a very long minute checking each other out the baby impala makes the fatal mistake of trying to run away which activates the leopards hunting instincts.

    The leopard immediately follows the baby impala and trips it up three times with its paw before the doomed antelope makes a brave but hopeless bolt for the bush.

    The leopard which can hit speeds of nearly 40mph is far too quick for the newly born and quickly pulls it down and grabs its neck in its jaws. 

    The leopard then walks past their safari truck with the baby impala no more than an hour old hanging by its neck from his jaw to find a quiet place to feed.

    Mr Muller added: ‘We were on an elephant drive when we stumbled on a female impala which had given birth in what I estimate to be the last hour and it was still wet.

    Done dinner: The leopard captures the baby impala and carried it off by the neck

    ‘Female impalas generally leave the herd for the birth and the mother and new born were alone and we watched for five minutes as the new born clumsily begin to stand.

    ‘Then all of a sudden there was a commotion and Dewane, an old dominant male leopard, who must have been stalking the mum and baby emerged towards them both.

    ‘The mother instinctively ran leaving Dewane alone with the baby and I began filming.

    ‘I think the way Dewane behaved towards the baby at first in not killing it was caused by the confusion of the impala not running away and it supressed the trigger instinct.

    ‘The leopard simply became curious about the new born impala and nuzzled up to it. They were licking each other. It is extremely rare but you know it will not end well.

    ‘When the impala ran you know that it is going to die and you have mixed emotions witnessing it but it is an inevitable part of nature even if it is pretty emotional.

    ‘The leopard killed the impala quickly and the circle of life continues’ he said. 

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