Single Male Leopard Defends Against Three Adult Cheetahs in Big Cat Brawl

Written by Alan Lemus
Published: September 26, 2022
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A leopard is usually a very cautious hunter for a good reason. It lives and hunts solo, meaning it doesn’t have other leopards to depend on or help during hunting. 

Any injuries during a confrontation with another animal or while hunting could compromise its hunting abilities, resulting in starvation.

Its natural inclination to be cautious explains why a leopard will likely abandon its kill rather than defend it when confronted by carnivores such as hyenas or lions. The leopard also wastes little time dragging its kill up a tree where it can eat without worrying about defending its kill. 

But a leopard will confidently take on cheetahs and even snatch them a kill without fearing any injuries. A tourist in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya captured this fascinating phenomenon in a video.

A Leopard Bullies Three Adult Cheetahs

The video begins with three cheetahs moving toward a leopard to defend the carcass. It is surprising that a leopard hunts during the day since they are highly elusive nocturnal hunters. 

Leopards have a strong night vision, which gives them a significant advantage over prey during hunting at night. They stalk and move near their prey before launching a sudden surprise attack, giving it little chance to escape. 

The leopard uses this tactic in the video by stalking the cheetahs before charging suddenly. 

The leopard is hunting during the day, perhaps because it is tempted by the thought of snatching an easy meal from the cheetahs. 

It appears the cheetahs noticed the leopards’ presence while eating their kill. Cheetahs are taller than leopards. They must have hoped their height advantage and numbers would be sufficient to intimidate the leopard into walking away.  

Their bravery quickly changes to a run for their lives when the leopard charges forward and successfully intimidates the cheetahs without establishing contact. 

The cheetahs also attempt to defend themselves but are careful not to get too close to the leopards and risk an injury. 

Why Didn’t the Cheetah Fight?

The cheetah’s decision to run away rather than defend their meal isn’t surprising. Speed is the cheetah’s main attack tool and primary defense strategy. 

The fastest land animal in the world isn’t aggressive. It will opt for the flight option during a confrontation rather than a fight. 

Despite being a carnivore, the cheetah has relatively small sharp teeth and weaker jaws. Weighing an average of 140 pounds, cheetahs are considerably lighter than other carnivores, such as the leopard (220 pounds) and lion (420 pounds).

Their relatively light weight allows them to sprint up to 75 mph, but it’s disadvantageous during a fight with a larger animal with longer canines.  

Thus, both the leopard and cheetah would rather run away than fight, but the leopard takes its chances and succeeds in scaring the three cheetahs away. 

As expected, the leopard didn’t eat its acquired meal on site but carried it away to the bushes, where it could eat without interference. The bushes offer a perfect environment where they can use their camouflage to hide. 

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About the Author

Alan is a freelance writer and an avid traveler. He specializes in travel content. When he visits home he enjoys spending time with his family Rottie, Opie.

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