Leopard Gets Up Close And Personal With Tourist On Safari

Posted on June 1st 2018

Leopard 4

Recently a tourist on safari in Botswana’s Okavango Delta was sitting in a vehicle and was approached by a young leopard that appeared to be extremely curious. The leopard then set about biting and playing with the tourist’s shoe. Whilst the tourist was probably quite disturbed by the incident, fortunately it ended without any injury or death. Experts however were none to pleased and said the result could have been very different.

Safari guide made a mistake

Apparently as the leopard approached the vehicle, the safari guide responsible for the safety of the tourists allegedly instructed his charges to remain completely still in order not to startle the big cat. The leopard leapt into the vehicle and scratched at the leg of the tourist, pawing and biting his shoe. After reviewing the footage of the incident, experts said what should have happened was the drive should have started the engine the moment the leopard closed in on the car. It was extremely irresponsible for the guide to allow a leopard to approach a tourist. If the leopard starts regularly interacting with people, someone will eventually get hurt and the animal will have to be put down.

It’s a fine line

When the driver eventually did start the vehicle, the noise made by the engine scared the leopard away. The encounter is an illustration of the fine line safari guides must negotiate between providing the best possible experience for a guest as well as the long-term relationship between humans and animals. On one hand, if a guide routinely scares of animals approaching vehicles, that could end up displeasing tourists and threaten their income. Alternatively, if a leopard does approach a vehicle and there are no negative consequences, it may continue that behaviour, ultimately ending with an attack on an individual.

Leopards need to know that humans are not on the menu

In this particular situation it is not completely possible to say no harm no foul. There was a little bit of an issue. We have to remember that cats do enjoy playing with their food and that a young leopard is still learning what it has the ability to take down and eat. The main problem in this case is that the young leopard did not learn that there is a negative connotation associated with interacting with humans directly. Hopefully the leopard does eventually learn that humans are not part of its menu. Fortunately, in this instance a tourist walked away with the tale of a lifetime, nevertheless being that close to a leopard is not a good idea.


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