This Leopard's Patience While Hunting a Warthog Paid Off

May 22 2015

“I guess the early bird catches the worm, or in this case, the early leopard catches the warthog,” says Simon Vegter, senior safari guide & co-founder of He continues, “This leopard showcases incredible skill and agility in order to overpower the warthog in the confined area of the burrow. What's more incredible in this case is the unbelievable patience it has! The leopard saw the warthogs enter their burrow the previous night and waited for 12 hours, knowing that they'll have to emerge the same way they entered. Patience (and silence) paid off. Leopards become skilled at hunting specific prey, and from the quick success in overpowering and killing the warthog I assume this is not the first time he has killed in this manner.” We chat more about the nature of this clip.  

TB: Can you describe to us how a leopard will typically ambush and then kill its prey?
SV: First off leopards are stealth hunters. With their exceptional camouflage and silent movement, they try and creep up as close as possible to their quarry (as can be seen in this video). And then they take the animal by surprise. They use every available cover to remain undetected, but even when cover is scarce they often crawl extremely low to the ground to approach closer. A simple pounce is then sufficient enough to bring down their prey. Thereafter they will suffocate their prey with a bite to the neck. Even though this seems like the standard way of hunting, due to their opportunistic nature there is no definitive hunting pattern and they will use any need available to capture their prey. Their prey can vary from insects, fish, birds, crocodiles to small and even larger mammals. They even scavenge from wild dogs and cheetahs believe it or not. Therefore one certainty is that they often surprise us with their ingenious hunting techniques.

TB: How often does a leopard hunt, and do they store their food somewhere?
SV: This will vary depending on the size of the prey captured each time. Larger prey (like warthog or impala) are hunted once or twice a week, but often smaller animals, like birds or rodents can form the bulk of their diet and will be hunted more regularly. Food is mostly consumed on the ground, but leopards have the strength to carry their own body weight up into a tree. So for big prey animals and in areas where there are hyenas and lions that can potentially steal their kill, they have a habit of pulling the kill into a tree so that they can feed in peace without being harassed by other scavengers.
TB: Where will you most likely find a leopard hunting? Or does it vary?
As mentioned above due to their opportunistic nature, leopards can be found hunting in any terrain, but they often prefer areas with denser cover so that they can remain well hidden.
TB: What is the most interesting thing you can tell us about warthogs?
SV: Warthogs have two sets of tusks. The ones in the lower jaw are actually the formidable weapons that they use to protect themselves. It rubs up against the top tusks resulting in a sharpened edge. With those they stab and slice with a sideways move of the head. The leopard managed to avoid these tusks in the process of catching the hog. Younger warthogs have white cheek whiskers to simulate tusks. This makes them look fiercer when they are still very vulnerable.

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