Watch a Camouflaged Lioness Send an Unwitting Leopard Running For Its Dear Life

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: August 30, 2023
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Key Points:

  • Although lions are generally more powerful than leopards, the latter are faster.
  • Lions are only capable of reaching a maximum speed of 35 mph; leopards on the other hand, are capable of reaching 40 mph.
  • Leopards do not generally feature on lions’ menus, however, a starving lion would not turn down the offer of spotted feline for dinner.

The incredible Etosha National Park in Namibia was the location of this fascinating encounter. It was recorded by a safari guide who explains further in the video notes what exactly happened. Scroll down to watch the full video of these two magnificent animals – a lioness and a young female leopard.

Lioness Meets a Leopardess

The lioness spots the leopardess first. Within seconds, she is stalking the smaller animal, keeping low to the ground where it is harder for her to be spotted. Her brown coat also provides excellent camouflage. The leopard has no idea that she is there but the lion’s excitement makes her twitch a little and her cover is blown!

You can see the exact moment that the leopard spots the lion. Her posture alters drastically. Her body tenses, she crouches and her ears flatten to her body. She clearly identifies the larger cat as a threat and they stare at each other for a few seconds – but who will make the first move?

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Keeping her eyes on the lion, the leopard reverses and makes a neat turn before racing away into a thicket. The lioness gives chase but the leopard has an excellent head start and is just too fast. The lion has to give up and goes back to her original position to relax. A bit later, the guide spots the terrified leopard up in a thorny bush. She stays there for a long time!

Sitting lioness face forward and looking off to the side
A lioness would view a leopard as a competitor for prey


Do Lions Kill Leopards?

So, what’s the deal between these two predators? Firstly, lions are larger and more powerful than leopards and a lion would win in a straightforward fight. But leopards are faster–they can reach 40 mph while the lion can reach 35 mph. A leopard’s best bet is to use its speed, agility, and tree-climbing abilities to get away from a lion and that is exactly what the young female in this clip does.

Leopards are not on a lion’s list of usual prey. They get much better nutrition from large herbivores such as zebras and gazelles – these suit their digestive systems and meet their nutritional requirements. That does not mean that a starving lion would never eat a leopard if they came across one – it is just highly unusual.

So, what was this lion doing? Lions are territorial animals and do not like other predators roaming around their patch. They have prey in common and the leopard is competition. The lioness may also be defending her cubs if they are nearby. The leopard made a wise decision to run away!

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About the Author

Sharon has a Ph.D. in Public Health but has spent the last decade researching and writing about all things connected with animal health and well being. As a life-long animal lover, she now shares her family home with three rabbits, a Syrian hamster, and a very energetic Cocker Spaniel but in the past she has also been a Mom to Guinea Pigs and several cats!She has a passion for researching accurate and credible information about pets and reviewing products that make pet owners' lives a bit easier. When she isn't checking out new pet products she's trekking around the Welsh mountains and beaches with her dog - although she lets her husband and her three grown up daughters tag along sometimes if they are lucky!

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