Leopards will readily take on just about any species they can sink their powerful claws into. Birds? No problem. Porcupines? Worth a shot. Wild cats? Why not? The bulky felines even target snakes on occasion. In a video, filmed last month and recently uploaded to the Latest Sightings YouTube channel, a leopard is seen tussling with a hefty python and coming out on top.

The footage was captured by US tourist Suzie Moll while on a guided safari drive with her family in Kenya's Maasai Mara National Reserve. The group came across a leopard on the prowl and watched eagerly in the hopes of catching it on the hunt. The cat seemed focused on something lurking in the tall grass and the group looked on – with a decent measure of astonishment – as a massive African rock python slithered into view.

"It wasn’t long after we spotted the python when a full-on battle broke out," explained Clint Saint, owner of Live Life African Safari Getaways who shared the clip with Latest Sightings. Pythons are ambush predators and will usually lie motionless until prey strays within striking distance. Armed with sharp, backward-curving teeth, the constrictors will grip their meal-to-be while coiling their bodies around their quarry and squeezing. When facing off against a formidable threat like a leopard, however, the snakes will hiss loudly and strike while looking for a chance to flee.

Although adult pythons can weigh in at over 90 kilograms, leopards are bold predators that are more than capable of tackling larger prey. "In the end, the python was defeated, with numerous puncture wounds on its body, especially on its head area," Saint explained. "The leopard also had injuries with an obvious wound to the right front paw which could be clearly seen as it limped away from the scene."

While some of the safari-goers watching the brawl suspected that the python may come out on top, it's likely that the leopard instigated this fight and was always the favoured winner. It's not unheard of for the big cats to attack pythons and experienced leopards have been seen targeted the snakes' heads to immobilise their prey. 


Top header image: Arno Meintjes, Flickr