Leopard vs crocodile (better late than never)

Very late to the party here (the story was first published waaaaaay back on the 18th), but it just seems wrong not to cover this at Tet Zoo. Sincere apologies to the Bleiman brothers at Zooillogix and to John Lynch at Stranger Fruit, both of whom covered the following several days ago, but what the hey, there still might be some people who haven't seen the amazing photos...

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Taken by American wildlife photographer Hal Brindley in Kruger National Park, they show that leopards can kill crocodiles when they want to. The leopard tackled the crocodile in the water, pulled it on to land, and eventually succeeded in killing it. However, you can see from the photos that the crocodile wasn't a large/fully grown individual, plus of course things are ordinarily the other way round (crocodiles are known to kill leopards). For all the images go here on Telegraph.co.uk.

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For previous Tet Zoo material on leopards go here. I haven't yet published anything on Nile crocodiles, but there's some stuff about Saltwater crocs here. Plus of course, at some stage, we have to sort out Colin McHenry's photo of all those crocodilian skulls.

Thanks to Markus for the tip-off.

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Those photos are amazing. The coolest thing Ive seen ages. But being me (a not-so-great wildllife photographer) I would say that :D

The photographer has an account of this event, and other interesting observations that day, on his website.

Is there a south african tetrapod over a couple of pounds in weight that leopards haven't been proven to be capable of killing when so minded? I mean seriously they just seem willing to give pretty much anything a go (justifying their number 1 place on my list of animals I'd least like to bump into whilst wandering back to my hotel room from the bar).

There is also a great video online of a tiger killing a mugger crocodile that is considerably bigger than the cat. Very impressive.

Is there a south african tetrapod over a couple of pounds in weight that leopards haven't been proven to be capable of killing when so minded?

I think elephants might still be safe.

Damn eutherians always be hatin the archosaurian playaz!

Keith I believe there is a paper kicking around suggesting they do/have knock off elephant calves (although I think this is in the split off smaller forest species).

Elephant-killing leopards were reviewed in...

Blake, S. 2004. Do leopards kill forest elephants? Evidence from northern Congo. Mammalia 68, 225227.

I think a pdf is available online, but can't find it.

Amazing stuff. Dave Home - is there a link to the tiger vs mugger footage? Sound's good. Darren - do you need the specimen list for that croc photo?

Very cool pics that I had indeed missed. I wonder if the croc was at the acme of health though. Of late there has been a massive die-off of crocodiles in Kruger. It appears that they are getting pansteatitis, probably from an overload of toxic pollutants running into the park via the Crocodile (?) River. It causes their fat bodies to become hardened which stiffens their bodies and tails causing pain, decreased agility and eventual starvation and death.

By Adam Yates (not verified) on 27 Jul 2008 #permalink

"I wonder if the croc was at the acme of health"

Sure, weak or dying.

I would not say this, it could be well that the crocodile was neither weak nor dying. Jaguars are known to prey on caimans, even ozelots do this at smaller specimens, and both tigers and lions are known to kill comparably big and healthy crocodiles too. So why should a leopard not be able to kill a healthy crocodile of this size?

Sordes and Jerzy,

You misunderstand me, I'm not saying that it is impossible for a leopard to take on a healthy croc. However it clearly doesn't happen very often, otherwise these photos wouldn't be news. It is curious that these photos were taken while the Kruger crocs are in a serious crisis (Well at least those in the Olifants River system, I was wrong about the river in my first message). It would seem sensible for a predator to take advantage of a croc that may have had the edge taken off its agility by early the early stages of pansteatitis - thats all, just speculating.

By Adam Yates (not verified) on 29 Jul 2008 #permalink