A slender mongoose and a leopard? Yes, that’s right! This month’s sequence shows what happens when a leopard takes an interest in a mongoose. Pictures and text by Michele Nel

October 2013 found us yet again in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. We were staying at Urikaruus and decided to drive to Auchterlonie and back, it was to be our last official game drive.

It was very quiet on the way there: two swallow-tailed bee-eaters and a martial eagle being the sum total of my photography entertainment. We got to Auchterlonie in no time at all and decided it was pointless going on so we turned around and took a slow drive back to Urikaruus.

As we were approaching Gemsbokplein my husband noticed fresh “kitty-cat spoor” going across the road. We stopped and surveyed the area but there was nothing to be seen. We drove slowly forward and this was when I spotted a beautiful young leopard on the dunes ahead.

KgalagaiLeopardMongoose1-Michele Nel-Feb 2014.jpg.

The leopard looked at us and then got up. I expected her to walk back over the dune but instead she walked towards us.

KgalagaiLeopardMongoose2-Michele Nel-Feb 2014

We hung back as we thought she might want to cross the road to make her way to the waterhole.

KgalagaiLeopardMongoose3-Michele Nel-Feb 2014

She was coming closer and closer but then decided to lie down. In true cat fashion she peered at us through a little bush. Resigning myself to the fact that I was not going to get an award winning close-up of a leopard, I tried my best to capture her through the pesky bushes.

KgalagaiLeopardMongoose4-Michele Nel-Feb 2014.jpg
KgalagaiLeopardMongoose5-Michele Nel-Feb 2014

She kept glancing behind her and we soon realised what she was interested in… a slender mongoose ventured out of a rocky crevice. The mongoose saw the leopard and disappeared over the rocky ridge very quickly.

KgalagaiLeopardMongoose6-Michele Nel-Feb 2014

The next minute the leopard took off up the dune. She had spotted a second mongoose.

The leopard gave chase and the mongoose took off.

KgalagaiLeopardMongoose8-Michele Nel-Feb 2014

KgalagaiLeopardMongoose9-Michele Nel-Feb 2014

KgalagaiLeopardMongoose10-Michele Nel-Feb 2014

KgalagaiLeopardMongoose11-Michele Nel-Feb 2014

The leopard had chased the mongoose in a complete circle and the mongoose made it back to the safety of the rocky crevice.

The leopard eventually lost interest in the mongoose and lay down, again behind a little bush. We thought the show was over but she got up and started walking along the dune.

KgalagaiLeopardMongoose21-Michele Nel-Feb 2014.jpg.

KgalagaiLeopardMongoose20-Michele Nel-Feb 2014.jpg.

Again we thought the leopard would make her way to the waterhole but again she lay down. She really was playing games with us!

KgalagaiLeopardMongoose17-Michele Nel-Feb 2014

We were beginning to run out of time and we needed to move on. I wished she would come closer. As we were about to leave she stood up yet again and walked closer to us and then lay down once more.

KgalagaiLeopardMongoose18-Michele Nel-Feb 2014

It was time for us to get back to camp. We had been treated to another awesome sighting in the park and yet again the Kgalagadi had saved the best sighting till the end.

About the photographer

Michele says: “My husband and I are keen visitors to the park and have probably visited more than 25 times since 2000. I bought my first DSLR in early 2004 and have not looked back since. Photography is no longer a hobby, it has become my passion.”

About the leopard

Matthew Schurch of the Kgalagadi Leopard Project has identified this leopard as Warona. Find out more about Matthew’s project and learn to identify the leopards you see by using his leopard identification guides.