Baboon steals leopard cub in Pilanesberg National Park

Posted by Anita Froneman on 3 December 2020

A visitor to the Pilanesberg National Park witnessed a rare sighting when he came across a baboon with a stolen a leopard cub. Paul Wood told Latest Sightings about this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

‘The troop [of baboons] was moving down the road in the opposite direction from us and we gradually made our way past them. As we came around a bend in the road, we all saw what turned out to be the very last member of the troop, a young adult male baboon, and he was visibly clutching something small under his belly with one arm. At this point, the baboon was only 10 m or so in front of our vehicle,’ said Wood.

‘Within seconds, and with all eyes on him, he juggled what he was carrying and we all gasped as it was clearly a tiny leopard cub. The initial reaction from myself, and the guide, was that the cub was surely already dead and the baboon had simply picked it up while foraging, or, perhaps, had even been involved in its death. However, after a few more seconds, it was obvious that the cub was very much alive!’ he continued.

‘An adult baboon shouldn’t be carrying around a leopard cub! The cub belongs with its mother! I think we were all hoping that the baboon would lose interest in the cub and leave it behind so that there might be the smallest chance that it could be reunited with its mother.

‘But, as we watched, it was clear that the baboon was very interested in the cub and was intent on taking it along with him. He would sit quietly with it, occasionally looking down to check on it, and even groomed the cub as we watched. He was quite gentle with it, if a little clumsy, but did not appear to want to harm it in any way,’ Wood concluded.

Meanwhile, in the Kruger National Park, another visitor also sighted a baboon with a stolen leopard cub. Lauren Pretorius came across the very same scenario, and sent Latest Sightings some incredible pictures included in the video below:

The chances of these cubs surviving are very slim, as they are extremely vulnerable at a young age and being away from their mother for even a short time could lead to death.

Picture: Screenshot from video

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