When the hunter becomes the hunted.

On a recent visit to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – a vast expanse of semi-desert habitat in the Kalahari Desert region of Botswana and South Africa – tourists Bertie and Ria van Greunen witnessed firsthand why leopards are such hardcore survivalists and accomplished hunters. While on route to a waterhole, where a pair of jackals had been seen on a regular basis, the couple spotted a leopardess on the prowl. Identified as Olebile – a young leopard known to roam around the Polentswa area of the reserve – the cat moved into the long grass on the outskirts of the waterhole and waited.

Distracted by a flock of doves that had swooped in for a morning drink, the jackals did not notice the prone cat concealed in the foliage. Much like leopards, jackals are cunning, opportunistic hunters and will eat almost anything that's available. In the arid Kgalagadi, waterholes are regularly attended by doves and sandgrouse, and the jackals there have developed keen bird-hunting skills. On this day, though, the canines did not seem aware that they too were being targeted.

When one of the jackals leapt into the air in pursuit of a dove, Olebile made her move. The jackal was "helpless in the air and the timing of the leopard was spot on. The jackal knew [it] was in trouble and had no chance," van Greunen told Latest Sightings. The big cat took off with her kill giving the van Greunens one last glimpse as she crossed the road dragging the carcass. 

"It was such a unique sighting, but very emotional at the same time and perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence," the couple recalls.