The silent stalk. The slinking crawl. The explosive pounce. Leopard hunts are the epitome of feline predatory prowess and witnessing one firsthand is a rare spectacle only enjoyed by a lucky few. Tourist Mario Paul recently joined the ranks of the "first-handers" when he witnessed a leopard stalk and attack an impala in South Africa's Kruger National Park.

After getting word that a leopard was resting on some rocks beside a weir in the south of the reserve, Paul made his way there in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the elusive cat. When he arrived, the rocks were leopard-less, but a herd of giraffe standing nearby appeared suspiciously alert revealing that a predator was in the area. "I drove to higher ground where I could see what was going on, and that's when I saw the leopard on the edge of the riverbank," Paul explained to Latest Sightings.

The cat had its eyes on a herd of impala that were grazing nearby. "I noticed the wind was blowing quite strongly in the leopard's direction and that the leopard had quite a lot of cover to launch an attack from, and I knew that the probability was good for some action."

In characteristic leopard fashion, the big cat edged its way closer to its prey using the riverbank for cover until it was just metres from the impalas. The attack scattered the herd, sending one of the antelope directly into the path of the pouncing cat, which nabbed its quarry midair in a dramatic display of leopardly flair. After the dust had settled, the leopard dragged its kill to the base of a big tree where it lay down to recuperate.

"It was an amazing experience to witness how the hunt progressed from start to finish and to have been able to capture it on film was just incredible," Paul recalls.

This explosive hunt is a fairly standard example of the leopards' ambush hunting style. Small to medium-sized antelope are the preferred choice of meal, but the stealthy cats often use their agility and strength to tackle a wide variety of prey.

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