Leopards are not fussy when it comes to prey choice. These predators will take on everything from porcupines to other cats – and even snakes if it's worth the effort. While on safari in South Africa's Greater Kruger National Park last year, a group of tourists was lucky enough to witness a mother leopard and her cub taking on a massive southern African rock python in a nail-biting battle.

The tourists were on an early morning game drive when they first spotted the female feline resting in the treetops. After descending to reunite with her cub in a brief bonding session, the leopard relaxed while the youngster went off to explore – and it wasn't long before something in the undergrowth caught its attention. 

African rock pythons might be among the continent's largest snakes, but they often remain concealed in thick bushes or trees, making them tricky to spot. Even after the cub had sniffed out this four-metre giant, the safari guests and their guide were still struggling to identify it.

The cub-snake commotion soon caught the attention of the adult leopard, and she moved in to investigate – and it's a good thing the youngster got some backup. Armed with sharp, backward-curving teeth, these constrictors can inflict serious bites and are strong enough to take down fully grown antelope. Adults can weigh in at over 90 kilograms, and this hissing specimen was not far off that. Still, leopards are bold predators that are more than capable of tackling larger meals. 

Although the final outcome wasn't captured on camera, reports from the sighting indicate that the cats eventually came out on top. According to the visitor who filmed the encounter, the mother leopard used the hunt as an opportunity to teach her cub a thing or two about snake hunting: "After vanquishing the foe, [the mother leopard] come around behind the cub, who sat intently watching the whole time, and gently pushed [it] towards the carcass. Very tentatively, [it] reached out a paw with claws extended to touch the beast."

Top header image: Jessica Shippee/Flickr