Apex Predator Leaps to New Heights
Posted by Marco Tonoli
Apex field leader Marco Tonoli captured this amazing encounter on safari in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Watch the unbelievable dexterity of this apex predator leaping to new heights to catch its prey.
The early morning alarm call of the Vervet Monkey. Everyone who has been on safari knows it. And if you haven’t, it will be the first alarm call you’ll learn and remember.
As you gently amble through the bushveld, excitement rushes through your body at the sudden sound of the Vervet Monkey’s call. In fact, one of the greatest pieces of advice I received as a young guide was, “Marco, stop driving around so much, just stop the vehicle and listen for a few minutes. The bush will tell you where the Leopard is.”
It’s an age-old battle between predator and prey, and the Leopard is seldom on the winning side. Many a hunt has been spoiled by the unruly racket of the Vervet Monkey. I am almost certain I have seen utter disappointment on a Leopard’s face, just a few feet from its quarry, when the cat is spotted by the ever-vigilant monkey yelling its disapproval. And with that, every other nearby mammal knows to be aware of a lurking predator. But why does a little, nimble and light-footed monkey that so effortlessly glides through the trees seem so fearful of this spotted feline? Well, it’s because it should be.
Out on a game drive in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, we had literally not left our camp more than five minutes earlier when deep in the bush the sound of sheer panic erupted. Vervet Monkeys were alarming like never before. We thought they may have spotted a very nearby Leopard, so we rushed toward the sound. Quickly we spotted a young female Leopard high up in an Apple Leaf tree, at least 30 feet up, and very near to the canopy. Vervet Monkeys in nearby trees were alarming like crazy, and we soon realized why. On an isolated branch in the same cluster of trees where the Leopard was moving, sat a lone young Vervet Monkey. The chase was on!
We witnessed some classic cat and mouse, with the Leopard running down one tree and up another, only to find that the monkey had safely jumped to the very spot the Leopard had started. It was time for this agile young Leopard to pick up her game. In an incredible display of strength, agility and balance, she bolted up the tree then jumped an almost impossible distance between trees. She hurtled up the last flimsy branches and had her claws on the terrified monkey before it knew what was happening.
Learn more about Marco Tonoli and plan to join him on one of his upcoming expeditions.