Animals can do the most unbelievable things. Even more so when they are not aware that they are being filmed or watched. 32-year-old, Ph.D. candidate, Kyle-Mark Middleton and Project Researcher, Carrie Hickman came across this footage from a camera trap. A cheeky leopard stealing a baby bird from a hornbill nest.
“The APNR Ground-Hornbill Project has been researching and conserving the species for the past 22 years. Part of the conservation efforts involves installing artificial nests to facilitate breeding in areas where natural nests no longer occur.”
“We arrived at the nest during our routine nest checks to monitor breeding and the nestling condition. On arrival at the nest, we heard something rustling above and then jumping down. When we got to the foot of the nest, we saw the half-eaten nestling on the ground. We retrieved the camera trap to see what had happened.”
The leopard had managed to steal a baby Ground Hornbill the Hornbill-chick out of the nest and was beginning to inspect it. Had it not been for the dedicated researchers, doing their check-ups, that chick would have been long gone. However, this predator will probably not wander too far, knowing there is still, sadly, a snack waiting.
“When watching the footage, we were very sad that this had happened, losing a chick is quite a big blow for these endangered birds. At the same time, it is good that we caught the culprit. Often, we find nests empty and can only assume that it was predated. But we never know what the actual animal was.”
“Luckily this camera was up at the right time and really helps aid our understanding of these birds and the natural predators that they face. It’s quite rare to catch predation events on our camera traps. Since using camera traps, this is only the third time we have caught a leopard predation event. At the end of the day, this is heartbreaking yes. However, it is crucial to remember that one can sympathize with the prey but shouldn’t vilify the predator.”