Watch a Leopard Accidentally Hunt a Hippo, and Return Later for a Meal

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: October 21, 2023
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Key Points

  • Leopards will eat almost anything, but fish is a favorite meal. This video shows the lengths to which a leopard will go to get a fish, including hard trekking and a surprise.
  • The leopard in this video has to work its way through some deep mud–deep enough to hide a hippo buried to the top!
  • The leopard is scared away from its intended fish by the presence of the hippo, but it returns that night to grab the fish and slog back through the mud to a drier dining spot.

Watch This Fascinating Video

The Leopard’s Quest

One minute you are tiptoeing across some mud looking for your next meal and the next…you are almost riding a hippo! This is what happened to an intrepid leopard in the Kruger National Park in South Africa and thanks to some excellent camera work, we get to share the moment.

At first, we see the leopard carefully pick its way across what looks like a dried-up watering hole or river. The big cat’s paws sink into the mud as it makes its way across the unstable surface. Leopards are very nimble and agile animals, but they can weigh up to 165 pounds, so this does not look like the most comfortable terrain for this big cat.

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We tend to think of leopards stalking large prey, but they’ll eat almost any type of creature, and fish is one of their favorite foods.

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©Michael Wick/

Leopards are not that picky about what they eat, and at first, we do not know what our muddy hunter is trying to get at. These spotted predators will eat over 90 species of prey, including everything from baboons to dung beetles. They are also very partial to fish and we soon discover that it is a poor marooned fish that our leopard is hunting. This very flexible diet has allowed the leopard to survive in areas where other large predators would struggle. Their eclectic tastes have allowed this species to thrive in a wide variety of ecological niches – they simply eat whatever is available.

The Hippo’s Mud Bath

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A leopard would have to think twice about preying on a huge hippo.

©John Carnemolla/

When it comes to hunting styles, leopards would be described as patient stalkers – and this is what the individual in this video is doing…until it gets a big shock. As your attention is focused on the leopard, you may notice the surface of the mud moving a little but you get little warning of what is about to happen.

Suddenly, a giant hippo emerges from the mud looking none too pleased that it has been disturbed from its wallowing. The leopard is just as startled as we are and leaps backward, but the hippo rotates to keep a close eye on the predator. With the leopard safely out of the way, the hippo gets back to snoozing with a huge sigh.

The footage then cuts to the same location but several hours later once the night has fallen. The determined leopard is back in the mud looking for a meal, and this time the hunting trip is successful. It’s typical for leopards to hunt at night – they have excellent nocturnal vision. This particular fish may have been a bit larger than the leopard had thought, and the journey back across the mud is not an easy one!

At one point, all four paws sink into the mud and the leopard’s belly is dragging across the surface. Eventually, our friend reaches the firmer ground and can find somewhere suitable to devour its (very muddy) meal.

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Poor leopard! All it wanted was to make its way across a vast muddy mess to get to an easy treat – a big tasty fish. How was it to know that it was walking across a massive muddy hippo taking a leisurely mud bath? The leopard’s shock and disappointment were clearly visible. The same goes for the fisherman in the next video. Marlin are some of the most prized trophy fish because they are so difficult to catch – often taking up to 45 minutes of muscle-straining effort! Imagine putting in the work – only to have a shark snatch up your prize right as you’re about to reel it into the boat. He might not have his trophy – but at least he has a video record of the fish that got away!

The fish that got away.

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©

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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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