This must be one of the most extraordinary photo sequences that we have seen! Mohammed and Sharifa Jinnah had the privilege of witnessing a remarkable encounter between a leopard and African wild cat.
Mohammed Jinnah recounts their experience: “On 9 August 2013 we were staying at Kalahari Tented Camp in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. We left camp at 15:00 pm for a game drive and saw a cheetah with three cubs at Sitzas Waterhole. We decided to move on as they were far from the road. At the 14th Borehole Sharifa said: ‘Stop! Leopard.’
“We were overjoyed when the leopard, which we later identified to be Tsamma (thanks to the ID Guide by Matthew Schurch), walked towards us. Suddenly I saw an African wild cat run out from some shrubs and alerted Sharifa to click away.”
As soon as the leopard spotted the cat it followed in hot pursuit. The small cat ran as fast as it could and made its way up to the top of a nearby tree.
We estimated the tree to be about 12 metres. Tsamma followed the cat but not before giving us some beautiful poses.”
Sharifa continues: “From the driver’s side Mohammed could not shoot the top of the tree. I had to make a quick decision. Having owned a few cats I anticipated what might happen. I changed to the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 II lens, sacrificing reach for speed and getting a wider angle.”
The African wild cat made it safely to the ground and quickly made its escape from the hungry leopard.
Mohammed says: “From the time we first saw Tsamma, it took 40 minutes for this sighting to unfold. At the end of it both of us just sat there, not saying a word for about five minutes, trying to take in the scene we had just witnessed. Remarkably we were the only people at the sighting from start to finish.
“We have had some amazing leopard sightings but this has to be my best.”
Mohammed used a Canon 1D mark IV camera with a Canon EF 500 f/4 lens and Sharifa a Canon 7D Camera with a Canon 100-400 f/4.5–5.6 lens.