It is rare to see one leopard, even more so to see three, but more unusual still is to see a female leopard break up a fight between two males.


Greater Kruger, South Africa (29 January 2020) – 

Daniel Bailey, a 28-year-old Safari Guide at Mala Mala, a private game reserve in the Greater Kruger, captured an incredible sighting while on one of his drives recently. He witnessed two male leopards fighting over a female, only she wasn’t having violence of her watch and stopped them.

The sighting is quite rare. Usually, males are left to fight out their differences without interference; in fact, it can be quite risky to get involved during a leopard fight. Daniel discussed the rare sighting with Latest Sightings Kruger, explaining how it is exciting to see one leopard, never mind three!

“It was early in the morning. The temperature was still cool and ideal for a sighting of one of the big cats.

 Not long after we started the drive, we found fresh tracks of a male leopard on the road close to the riverbank. We soon found him in a drainage line just a few feet off the road.”

“While observing the leopard, everything from his body language, constant scent-marking, and profuse salivation, it became clear that there was another leopard in the area. Indeed, a few moments later, another male leopard appeared. As soon as he became visible an audible low growl commenced and then a female appeared! She trailed the 2nd male’s every move, rubbing up against him, trying to entice him to mate with her.”

“As the sighting played out, a sense of excitement and adrenaline started to course through my veins. It is special seeing a leopard in the wild but three adults together is not so common. The presence of a female in oestrus and two big males seeking breeding rights, it had all the ingredients for an unforgettable sighting. It was clear that neither male wished to relinquish the opportunity to mate. The scene was on a knifes edge and tensions were running high. A fight was imminent.”


A fight was initiated after a few moments, and the results were breathtaking!

“The two male leopards sized each other up. Then started running alongside each other (a display known as parallel drafting) and then a fight broke out between the two males. They made contact just out of sight behind some vegetation. Once regaining visual, both males were locked teeth and claw in a ball. The younger male had pinned the older male by the head and neck. Whilst, the other kicked and scratched wildly to try to loosen his grip.”

“The female eventually caught up, examined the scene and then seemingly broke up the fight. She attacked the nape of the neck of the younger male and this sent all three leopards flying into the air. The younger male, unsure of his attacker, let go of his grip and quickly escaped to the safety of a nearby Sausage tree. The scene settled down, with the older male, slightly bruised and disorientated. He scent-marked and eventually lay down in the shade, licking and cleaning his wounds. The female examined him briefly and then disappeared into the river bed below the Sausage Tree to try and find the victor of the fight, which by now had descended the tree.”


“It was a very rare sighting. It was a dream sighting for any ranger or guest alike. One could spend a lifetime in the bush and never see male leopards in a serious fight. Let alone have three leopards in a sighting, and for it to escalate into a serious fight.”


Daniel has some advice for if you ever find yourself watching a hair-raising encounter between animals.

“When you are at a sighting that might get intense, take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. Try and ensure you have a beanbag or something to support your camera body and a larger lens to prevent camera shake. Your adrenaline will be through the roof, and your hands will be shaking due to seer excitement. Try stay zoomed out – if you’re zoomed in too close you’ll miss a lot.”


Take a look at the sighting below.

Sources: Greatest Sightings – Kruger
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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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