Fast Food: Sandgrouse Falls Foul Of Killer Claws…
Captured by photographer Matt Prophet at Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, this sequential series of snaps shows a young leopard leaping into the air to snatch a Burchell’s sandgrouse right out of the sky from among a small flock. That’s fly-through nom noms with a big dollop of awesomesauce!
Leopards are known to have an extremely broad diet and will feed on a greater diversity of prey than other members of the Panthera species. Their diet consists mostly of ungulates, followed by primates (mostly various species of monkey, including the Vervet monkey but they’ve been known to prey on adult chimpanzees and even gorillas! In fact, leopards are the ONLY natural predator of these latter two species!) However, they are highly versatile hunters and so are also known to opportunistically eat rodents, reptiles, amphibians, insects, birds (especially ground-based types like the Vulturine Guineafowl), fish and sometimes smaller predators (such as foxes, jackals, martens and smaller felid species).
In Africa, mid-sized antelopes provide a majority of their prey, especially impala and Thomson’s gazelles, whereas in Asia, primarily prey include deer such as chitals and muntjacs, as well as various Asian antelopes and ibex. A study at the Wolong Reserve in China revealed just how adaptable their hunting behaviour is. Changes in vegetative cover there over the course of seven years saw the animals opportunistically shift from primarily consuming tufted deer to pursuing bamboo rats and other smaller prey.