Next Level Leopard Somehow Catches an Eagle

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Written by Sharon Parry

Updated: November 10, 2023

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Amur leopard in sunlight

Perhaps the martial eagle in this footage thought that their size and power would protect them from any predators but sadly, they were wrong! We see a superb hunter, namely a leopard, sneak up from behind and capture the unsuspecting eagle in its powerful jaws. This very unusual event was captured in sub-Saharan Africa where there are many large bird species, including the ostrich.

Incredible Martial Eagles

The awesome martial eagle is the largest eagle species in the world with a wingspan of up to 8.5 feet with a distinctive speckled chest. They can be seen in the savannah and thornbush areas of Africa in areas to the south of the Sahara ranging from Senegal to Somalia and also further south to the Cape. They frequent the Kruger National Park in the Lower Sabie area.

Largest Eagles in the World: Martial Eagle

The local name of Martial eagles in South Africa is lammervanger (or “lamb catcher”).

©Theodore Mattas/

Martial eagles weigh up to 14 pounds and can knock a fully-grown human off their feet! Because of their huge size, they need to eat a lot, and often hunting is a big part of their lives. They commonly catch guineafowl, as well as bustards and other poultry and lizards. However, they are also partial to mammals and some of these are large! A Martial eagle will tackle a hyrax or even a small antelope. There are reports of these eagles dining on calves, goats, and lambs too.

They like to spend most of their time either perched in trees or soaring in the air surveying the land below for their next meal. It is highly unusual for them to be on the ground for long periods of time because it makes them vulnerable to predators as this individual found out.

Sneaky Leopard

Leopards are stunning big cats found across sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia. They are opportunistic hunters and are adept at exploiting situations that they find themselves in. The leopard in this video cannot believe their luck.


This is a wild African leopard looking down from a branch of a tree.


Leopards hunt birds, reptiles, and mammals and their very varied diet allows them to evade the intense competition for single food sources.

In this footage, the eagle has clearly failed to spot the leopard who is perfectly camouflaged behind a small tree. As the eagle is distracted by another smaller bird breaking cover and flying away, the leopard charges through the bush and pounces on their prey in one movement. Usually, a leopard will drag their prey to a safe space, such as dense vegetation, to eat it in peace. But oddly, this leopard leaves the carcass on the ground and walks away. However, in nature, nothing is wasted so it was probably not too long before scavengers arrived to feast on it.  

Is This Normal Behavior?

Watch a Hunting Leopard Become a Scaredy-Cat 30 Feet up a Tree After a Baboon Charges Cover image

It is not an everyday occurrence for a leopard to catch an eagle from the air!

©Soren Wolf/

While large avians may not be the everyday dinner for big cats like leopards, it does happen in the wild. Despite the quick reflexes of the eagle, a well-timed ambush is the key to victory for the feline.

Leopards will normally hunt and stalk weaker, slower prey. But if food is scarce and the right opportunity presents itself, they will not hesitate to strike!

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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