25 February 2018

Tanzania: Concern As Serengeti Leopards Resort to Cannibalism

Arusha — WEIRD as it may sound, Leopards in Serengeti have started to hunt and eat one another in emerging type of beast cannibalism among the ferocious cats prowling the country's second largest national park.

The Chief Conservator at Serengeti National Park, Mr William Mwakilema, has confirmed the occurrence, saying it was not very strange for wild beasts to turn upon each other from the same family when it comes to feeding.

"It may not sound common but it does occur albeit occasionally," said Mr Mwakilema when contacted by this paper over reports of leopards turning against each other in the so-called 'endless plains.' Reports of Serengeti Leopards 'eating each other,' went viral on social media, globally, as well as the 'National Geographic,' when some visitors to Tanzania filmed live episodes of one of the large cats tearing and chewing the flesh from another leopard perched onto a tree.

The video clips, that also got snatched up by the National Geographic, happen to include voices of local drivers and tour guides speaking in Kiswahili, over radio calls, summoning other guides to drive over to the site so that their respective visitors could also witness the spectacular happening in Serengeti. The video was taken by a scientist on his tour of Serengeti during honeymoon excursion and stumbled upon the incident.

He managed to film the rather rare, grisly sight: An adult male leopard cannibalising another juvenile male leopard, some minutes after the kill. "It was once-in-a-lifetime event to witness, for sure," says Dr Tanner Harvey, a Ph.D. student specialising in snake venom studies at the University of Northern Colorado in the United States.

Dr Harvey's work often takes him into the wild, but he stated that his recent trip to Serengeti National Park, in Tanzania's Northern Tourism Circuit was done with his wife, Ms Kathy Yang and it 'was strictly personal.' In Serengeti, the leopards usually prefer to stroll along river banks and in the denser parts of the woodlands. The leopards often lounge and nap in large trees with large sloping stems.

The Serengeti leopards tend to drag their hunted preys back and up into a convenient tree for protection; presumably from lions, hyenas and other carnivores that might steal their food.

It is estimated that there could be more than 1,000 leopards in Serengeti. Other major predators in the endless plains include 4,000 lions, 225 cheetahs, 3,500 spotted hyenas and 300 wild dogs.

And with more than 3 million preys, in form of Zebras, wildebeests and gazelles, experts believe the predators in the Serengeti do have more than their fair share of food sources to resort into eating one another.

Tanzania

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