My wife Margie and I were photographing the daily activity at a Cape fox den, near Twee Rivieren, for a week. There were three pups with their parents, but one of them just disappeared one night. We were upset and wondered whether a leopard, black-backed jackal, bird of prey or perhaps even a lion had taken it.
The fox family’s daily routine was fascinating; the female suckling and guarding the playing pups with great patience while the male was hunting. He sometimes returned with up to three rats in his mouth for the young ones. The pups first played with them; tossing them up in the air and then trying to catch them again before they fell to the ground, in this way practising their hunting skills. These activities gave us very different images including the photograph where it looks as if the dead rat is praying for its life after being thrown up in the air and ending up in this funny position.
Our speculation about what could have happened to the missing pup was enlightened early one morning. Emerging suddenly from the grass as if from nowhere, a leopard charged the foxes at the den. Havoc ensued as the adults yelled their warning signals and all of them disappeared safely into the den. This time the leopard got only a dead rat…
It is rare to see a wild leopard with prey as small as a rat.
Photo story: Johan and Margie Botha
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