If you’re going to shuffle off this mortal coil you may as well do it in style. This is the philosophy to which Mrs Bushbuck subscribed. Some bushbuck die of disease. Others die of old age. Not Mrs Bushbuck. She met her end at the jaws of a leopard. May she rest in pieces.
The bushbuck as the baboons found her
On Tuesday afternoon the habituated baboon troop happened across her remains next to a river, just a few hundred meters from our tent (thanks Pete for the tip-off!). They must have spooked the leopard, who had just made the kill and had started feeding. Baboons from this troop kill and eat bushbuck young and other mammals fairly frequently, but as they had not killed this animal they had no interest in eating it. Baboons and leopards have very different killing styles. Baboons kill when they encounter prey opportunistically, which they then they rip apart, frequently feeding upon it while it is still alive. It gets messy, but then for baboons hunting is just a hobby. Leopards are professionals. They deliberately stalk their quarry, remaining undetected until near enough to pounce. They use their sharp claws to catch their prey then kill it with a bite to the neck. You can see where the leopard grabbed the hindquarters, and the canine puncture marks from the canines on the underside of the neck where it suffocated the bushbuck. Clean, quick, and efficient.
Wounds to the hindquarters and neck where the leopard caught and killed the bushbuck.
We were able to put up a camera trap at the kill site to determine which leopard made the kill. Just ten minutes after we left the site the leopard turned up and dragged her prey away to safety. It was a female known as Jenny, the sister of Annakin, one of our collared male leopards. She clearly isn’t too disturbed by the human activity in this area and feels comfortable enough to make a kill. Two nights later one of our Research Assistants, Gregoire, came across a leopard on his way home to bush camp. Maybe it was Jenny eyeing up her next meal…