Leopards are very particular when it comes to their feeding behaviour. A Leopard will use a suffocating bite to the throat on larger prey, or a swift bite to the head or spine on smaller animals. Once the prey has succumbed, leopard will drag their prey towards cover to keep it from being picked up by other predators.
They will then often debowel the carcass and cover this up by scraping dirt and vegetation over it. This serves two purposes: Firstly, by making the carcass lighter to enable the cat to take the kill up into a tree and feed at leisure; and secondly, this helps mask the smell of the carcass.
They will also pluck the carcass of hair to avoid constantly coughing up fur balls while feeding. They feed on the carcass starting with the rump (as this has the choicest pieces of meat) and then work their way forward. This feeding will further lighten the carcass making it easier to handle when hoisting it into nearby trees or dragging it to more suitable cover. Recently, Jeanne Sakata Patterson, a guest of ours, managed to capture some great shots of this unique behaviour.
At Tanda Tula Safari Camp we have been fortunate to come across this big five animal fairly often.
A big thank you to Jeanne for allowing us to make use of the photos. Here you can clearly see the leopard busy removing the stomach, and you can already make out the patches on the rump where the hair has been plucked clean.