This is the moment a leopardess stalked an impala before killing it – with a ‘death hug’.
Wildlife photographer Chaitanya Vattem spotted the full-grown impala first and then the three-year-old big cat lunged from the bushes.
The young leopard, known as Luluka, locked its jaws on the animal’s neck by positioning itself underneath and ‘hugging’ the animal, in Masai Mara, Kenya.
Vattem said the impala was kicking the leopardess away – so the leopard ‘focused all her might on choking the Impala to death with her own weight’.
He added: ‘The Leopardess used her tail to balance and coil the legs of the Impala to block all movement.
‘The Impala collapsed within minutes thus giving out the nicer grip on the neck to the predator.
‘Now, it was a matter of few seconds ticking by before Luluka got her meal for the next few days.
‘The young leopardess took time to catch her breath and rejoice by playing around and licking the Impala.’
Vattem was in the area in a jeep and his driver got a call on his walkie-talkie of ‘leopard time’ and drove to around 20ft away from the action.
He added: ‘Capturing the scenes of a jungle is all about timing and you end up missing a lot if you don’t keep track of time down to seconds.
‘So, to keep up with the action, our driver made a dangerous crossing towards the other side of the stream.
‘It isn’t easy for a young leopardess to bring down a full-grown Impala on its own.’