This old female leopard has often been found on the western bank of the Sand River in the latter part of 2013. She is undoubtedly the oldest leopard seen this year, and her appearance and hunting tactics prove it. Her scarred face, tattered ears and worn down teeth are a sure sign of old age.
Several months ago, ranger Nic Moxham witnessed her kill a white-tailed mongoose in broad daylight. The elderly leopard spent hours trying to lick all of the meat from the small carcass.
More recently, rangers watched her kill four banded mongoose within a minute. Just after her series of kills, she lay down to rest before finding the energy to pluck one of the carcasses. She had ambushed them escaping from a burrow beneath the road. They initially took turns trying to escape one by one, but fell victim to the old but experienced leopard.
It is common for older leopards to begin hunting small rodents, mongoose, birds and other dangerous reptiles – often to their detriment. As a leopard ages, it lacks the strength and speed to stalk and kill larger mammals like impala and bushbuck. Thus they attempt to capture more vulnerable, but often dangerous, animals. Porcupines and black mambas are but two good examples of animals which older leopards are regularly injured by.