Impalas are among the most widely distributed medium-sized antelope species in southern and east Africa, which lands them squarely on the menu of a plethora of predators eager to take advantage of their abundance. Life can be tough when everything wants to eat you, as one unfortunate impala in South Africa's Kruger National Park discovered in a dramatic struggle for survival.

Warning: This footage may upset sensitive viewers.

This grisly showdown was filmed recently in the south of the reserve where substantial rains have filled river courses and topped up muddy pools like the one seen in the video. Crocodiles, while more at home in larger river courses and dams, are capable of trekking long distances and can turn up wherever there is deep-enough water. When a young impala strayed too close to this pool's edge, a Nile crocodile burst from the shallows, latched onto the antelope, and dragged it into the murky water.

"A struggle ensued for about two minutes, but the impala was able to break free and jump out of the water," explained Angela and Craig Weeks who captured the footage. "The impala herd had been alarm-calling really loudly during the impala-crocodile struggle, which is basically a call for food for any predator in the area." A leopard soon responded to the commotion and crouched beneath a thicket in anticipation of an easy meal.

The impala's liberty was short-lived: it trotted away from the water directly into the path of the leopard's ambush and was quickly dispatched by the opportunistic cat. "After all the commotion, the leopard proceeded to consume the impala in the shade of a nearby fallen tree," the Weeks told Latest Sightings

Leopards have diverse diets consisting of over one hundred prey species, but adults most commonly target animals that weigh around 20 kilograms. For Kruger leopards, impalas are the buck of choice and are the most commonly taken prey. Although leopards are cunning and calculated hunters, many attempts at securing a meal end in failure (over 80%), and the big cats are not above scavenging for carrion or snacking on reptiles and invertebrates. It's this opportunism and adaptability that has helped leopards become the most widespread of the big cats.


Header image: Pandiyan V