Incredible footage shows a leopard stalking and catching an eagle

Ever the opportunists, leopards will sink their claws into just about anything that lingers too long. Still, a bateleur – a large eagle native to the open savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa – is an unusual catch even for these famously unfussy eaters. Recently released footage from the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, a semi-desert stretch of protected land that straddles the borders between South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, shows a determined leopard stalking and catching an adult bateleur.

The clip was filmed at a waterhole on the Botswana side of the reserve, a notoriously wild area known for high densities of predators. Big cats that live in this harsh environment have learnt to adapt to the conditions. Research indicates that leopard diets in the Kgalagadi are made up of porcupines, gemsbok calves, duikers, black-backed jackals, bat-eared foxes, steenboks and genets. In keeping with the leopards’ documented reputation for dispatching smaller carnivores – especially when other prey is not widely available – small predators make up almost a quarter of the leopard’s diet in the arid Kgalagadi.

Competition for prey is tough and leopards must battle it out with lions, hyenas and cheetahs (of which there are believed to be a higher density in the Kgalagadi), so nothing is off the menu. Leopards are also thought to travel larger distances in search of food compared to other predators in the area.

Birds certainly comprise at least some part of the diet of these cats and there are a number of records showing that leopards will actively hunt avian prey, often in dramatic fashion. Here’s one leaping, swiping at, and narrowly missing a stork, and (in somewhat less-acrobatic style) here’s a leopard raiding an owl’s nest for a snack: