By Shivani Bhalla - Working to conserve the lion population of northern Kenya I monitor and patrol the Conservation area in West Gate Community Conservancy on a daily basis, recording all sightings of not only predators but wild prey and livestock, who at times encroach into this small area in the middle of the conservancy.
A few days ago, during my morning drive, I saw a huge leopard just about to cross the road in front of me. I turned off the engine and waited as the leopard, as most animals in West Gate are, was very nervous. The leopard sat on the road and watched me nervously and it was then that I realized it had another animal in its mouth. Initially it was hard to see what it was but as I tried to get closer the leopard moved off with it, and it became clear then that it was carrying another leopard.
The leopard moved off into the nearby bushes and disappeared from sight as it hid in the thick Salvadora bushes on the side of the road.
I was confused - what was going on? Was this a female with her dead young one? Did the lions kill this leopard (3 lions had been in the area the previous night) and another leopard found it and was dragging it away? Or did this leopard actually kill this other one?
Young male leopard
It became clear that this was indeed a male leopard and not a female one. A few hours later we returned with the scouts from the conservancy and went into the bushes on foot. The scouts spotted the dead leopard hidden deep in the Salvadora thicket. It was a younger male leopard and it had been clearly suffocated by the older leopard. The killer had eaten a large chunk of the stomach but left the rest.
The killer leopard was seen again the following morning in the same area but there were very few remains of the younger dead leopard.
I was and still am pretty shocked. About a year ago I saw a leopard kill and eat a cheetah in Samburu, but this was the first time I had heard of a leopard killing and eating another leopard. The reasons are obvious - territoriality, competition. However, eating it was what shocked me.
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org