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 behaviour to a house cat playing with a mouse. According to the 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.
"She bit down just so hard that the monkey was not hurt. She took it in her mouth, as if she were transporting her own offspring," said Mr Retterath, according to Daily Mail. "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."None of the adult monkeys came forward during the time Mr Retterath and his tour group were there. The leopard had still not killed the baby by the time they left to catch their flight.
"We watched this spectacle for 30 minutes. None of the monkeys got cocky and we left the crime scene, because we had to get to our bush flight. The cat had not killed the monkey by then," he said.