A wildlife photographer has captured the moment a leopard used a baby vervet monkey as bait to lure bigger adults. Heartbreaking visuals shared by Thomas Retterath show the big cat toying with the small primate, apparently in an attempt to initiate a rescue operation from adult monkeys.
The amateur wildlife photographer from Germany captured the scene playing out in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, explaining that the leopard did not immediately kill the tiny monkey after catching it. He said the leopard would let the monkey go for a bit before retrieving it again, comparing the behavior to a house cat playing with a mouse.
According to National Geographic, leopards have previously been observed playing with live prey before making a kill, just like house cats who rough up small rodents like mice and rats to practice hunting and protect themselves from injury.
An amateur wildlife photographer has captured the rare moment a leopard used a baby vervet monkey as bait in an attempt to lure in larger adults.
No adult monkeys took the bait, and by the time Thomas and his tour group had to leave for their flight, the baby monkey was still alive and in the care of the leopard.
The photographer explained that instead of killing the baby monkey once it was captured, the leopard toyed with it, occasionally letting it go only to retrieve it again, comparing the way it played with the monkey to when a house cat toys with a mouse.
She bit down just sσ hard that the monkey was not hurt. She took it in her mouth as if she were transporting her own offspring,’ Retterath recalled. ‘The cat apparently used the tiny one as bait in the intention that one of the adults would become careless and start a rescue operation.
Retterath said that he watched the jaguar for 30 minutes, but during that time ‘none of the monkeys got cocky’. The group left the ‘crime scene’ in order to catch their flight home. ‘The cat had not killed the monkey by then,’ he said.