January 11, 2013

Cheetah and Leopard, Botswana

Photograph by Jamie Hopf, Your Shot

This Month in Photo of the Day: Animal Pictures

A very rare, adrenaline-packed showdown between two spotted predators: a male cheetah and a female leopard. The leopard came to steal the cheetah's fresh kill. No one expected the cheetah to fight for it, as he is lower on the predator hierarchy, but he was very hungry—it had been a couple of days since his last meal. We were all stunned by the sudden engagement between the two cats. Sometimes hard work pays nothing and ultimately the leopard prevailed. Taken in Botswana.

(This photo and caption were submitted to Your Shot.)


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See displays of animal instinct »

28 comments
Ilham Losandi
Ilham Losandi

let's safe our big cats & donate now !

 let's safe our big cats

mon mon
mon mon

Hopefully this did not end tragically. Great shot! 

Mark Williams
Mark Williams

An amazing shot captured the moment perfectly. A unique image in so many ways.

Ramandeep Kahlon
Ramandeep Kahlon

This picture is a rare picture....adrenalinistic.....Kudos to the photographer.

Carlos Pastorino
Carlos Pastorino

The Cheetah always fascinated me, since childhood, because of its speed. I remember when I learned, as a kid, that it was the fastest animal on land, reaching around 110 km/h (~68 mph). I remember asking my father to drive at that speed... my reaction was: "woooooooow!!!!"

John Hilton
John Hilton

@Laurent V. I was quite disappointed to read your initial comment as it misrepresents the situation completely. I despise any form of hunting. I have worked in Botswana, and interestingly, at the photographic safari camp where Jamie took this photograph. Please allow me to make some comments and observations;

1) Yes, Botswana does presently allow hunting.

1a) Hunting Safari's, for trophies, are not cheap anywhere in Africa, hunters are certainly not "paying a pittance".

1b) Hunting of big cats, Lions in particular, in Botswana has been banned for many years.

1c) Botswana will ban all hunting as of 1 January 2014 - perhaps one of the most forward thinking of any African government when it comes to this matter. In this article my response 1a) above is corroborated by the values illustrated for each species. Here is an article with details of Botswana's recent announcement regarding the banning of hunting - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-20544251

2) With regards to your statement " it is a starving threatened species forced to fight another near threated species...":

2a) The Cheetah on this particular photographic safari concession in Northern Botswana are doing exceedingly well, they are not starving thanks to healthy populations of their prey species in an environment which is conducive to their furthered success. Granted, there may be areas where Cheetahs live in marginal habitats which afford them little access to prey items, but they travel massive distances to locate mates and secure food sources - so starvation is usually not an issue. For the record the IUCN lists them as "Vulnerable", so Cheetah's are not out of the woods and require further protection - a very good reason to support Nat Geo's Big Cats Initiative as well as the conservation efforts on the ground of safari operators such as those in Botswana. The particular private reserve where this photograph was taken undertook a project to introduce more Cheetah into the area which has had good success with the result that the population is healthier there.

2b) The Leopardess is indeed listed as "Near Threatened" so her plight is a little more positive - however the general population trend is still downwards, again the Big Cats Initiative seeks to educate, create awareness and hopefully reverse this trend.

2c) This was a fairly evenly matched squabble as both animals weight approximately the same. What actually occurred shortly after this initial standoff was that these two majestic spotted cats shared the carcass for a few minutes in plain sight of the onlookers. This is one of the rarest sightings which one could ever dream of, these two species would ordinarily avoid each other, however a Leopardess being a master of ambush and seizing any opportunity seemingly could not help itself on this occasion.

In closing:

This photograph is the fruit of a successful safari industry and in particular with this reserve has allowed Botswana to showcase its true magic - a place where Big Cats will have a chance of survival and number replenishment. There are large areas of protected, conserved,  pristine wilderness and habitats where nature is allowed to follow its natural course - this is rare in Africa. It needs to remain this way and therefore...

Botswana is extremely focused on exclusive Safaris; with a policy of low volume high value tourism. As such, the density of game drive vehicles is really low making sightings like this very rare (a simple matter of fewer eyes in the bush on game drives). At this particular private reserve, which is 330,000 acres, a maximum of 7 vehicles from 3 camps are out and about at any given game drive activity. Now interestingly on this reserve hunting activities used to take place, some 9 years ago those were stopped. Local knowledge imparted to me by guides and staff of the reserve indicates that there is a steady enrichening of diversity now, animals are far less skittish that what they used to be and species such as Roan and Sable antelope are now returning and growing in numbers. 

People who visit these photographic safari camps and spend their tourist dollars there are supporting this new conservation initiative by their very presence, they are not superficial. This is eco-tourism which screams support for the efforts to make sure that some of the last remaining portions of our global wildlife heritage are here for our grandchildren to enjoy.

Botswana, while having hunting as a previously large industry,  is a success story of how reducing and ultimately banning hunting altogether has afforded the wildlife a chance at re-establishing itself and allowing nature to regain its footing on its natural course.

Thanks for taking the time to read this... 


Laurent V.
Laurent V.

how is this beautiful? it is a starving threatened species forced to fight another near threated species in a country that allows tourists to pay a pittance to hunt antelope, lion, elephant and leopards until there is nothing left. You must be superficial. 

Jill Dunphy-Hanns
Jill Dunphy-Hanns

I hope the cheetah finally snagged a meal!! Great picture - the Fury of Nature unleashed!

Myra Linara
Myra Linara

Claws out and fangs bared and dust flying, must have been a spectacle between the two. What a great shot!


Oh by the way, I have been away for quite a while and  I was a bit overwhelmed by the changes on NatGeo. Had to re register even though I have been a user here for some time now. Hopefully I get to see some familiar faces, I kind of missed you guys :D

Ann Cronmiller
Ann Cronmiller

@John Hilton @Laurent V. thank you so much for the education on Botswana wildlife. I would love to take a photo safari some day, but until I win the lotto I'll have to be content with other people's photos, it is just good to know our big cats are doing o.k. some places.

Tamsin Allpress
Tamsin Allpress

Here, here, Thank you John,  excellent reply.  I feel honored to be the person who arranged this safari and know how sending guests on safaris such as these protects and saves our wildlife  for future generations. 

H C
H C

@Laurent V. That's an interesting comment. From which source did you get this information?

 I live and work in Botswana and deal daily with Tourists, Wildlife, Camps etc and I've heard nothing about hunting for cats of any species, not to mention that very little here is 'cheap' by any standard. To the best of my knowledge most of the wildlife here is protected from hunting and the local Defence Force have a shoot-to-kill policy on hunters/poachers that they regularly enforce, this country has an active interest in the preservation of it's wildlife.


However, perhaps you can enlighten us? What is your experience dealing with Wildlife in the African continent?


Back to the subject photograph...an outstanding shot.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy moderator expert

@Myra Linara Welcome back, Myra! We're so glad to have you joining the conversation. If you have any questions or feedback about the new system, please feel free to email me and the community team at hello@nationalgeographic.com.

Myra Linara
Myra Linara

@Meghan Murphy Thank you Meghan. Likewise I am  happy to be back. 
No questions at this point and please let me congratulate you guys  at NatGeo on this makeover.

water bird
water bird

@Myra Linara 

dear moderators... i tried to "like" myra's comment, but whenever i "like" a comment appears the text.  "unlike" and not like..   same thing yesterday ?????????????

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy moderator expert

@water bird @Myra Linara You're right, and this is a great question. The text says "Unlike" once you have liked a comment so that you can click it again to remove your like (in case, for example you clicked it by accident). You can tell when you've successfully liked a comment because your picture will appear next to others who have liked it in the bottom right.

water bird
water bird

@Myra Linara  

sorry for confusion, figured it out.. text "unlike" appears only while i am logged on.  appears as "like" when i log out.. ok.

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