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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Definitely ready for HER close-up: Leopard who got a little too close for comfort to photographer

By Daily Mail Reporter

Close and personal: The baby leopard leapt up to the roof of the Jeep, shocking photographer Sergey Ivanov, 50

This big cat is definitely ready for his close up, as he leaps up on to the top of a Jeep, where a wildlife photographer gets the shock of his life while trying to capture the leopard.

Sergey Ivanov, 50, was petrified as the beast jumped up for a close encounter while he was on safari in Namibia, near the Botswana border, along with his friend Sergey Kotelnikov, who had originally pointed out the animal.

As the pair stopped to take a closer look, they both hauled themselves on to the roofs of their respective Jeeps, so as to gain a fantastic photographic position.

Here, kitty kitty: The photographer recoils as the big cat jumps five-metres to reach the roof

And as both amateur photographers whipped out their cameras to begin snapping the baby leopard - it slowly crawled towards them.

But, completely out of the blue, the female leopard amazingly leapt over five feet on to the roof of the Jeep Mr Kotelnikov was perched upon.

Staring the cat in the eye, Mr Kotelnikov's face dropped with sheer panic as the cat lunges towards him.

Shock: The Russian photographer has a panic as the leopard jumps up on to his Jeep

But luckily it is only interested in having its picture taken up close and personal and calmly sits in front of the Russian photographer.

Mr Ivanov, who took the incredible pictures from an adjacent Jeep, said: 'Me and my close friend Sergey were on a photo-safari in Africa and were "shooting" big cats in a private park in Namibia not far from Botswana border.

'We both suddenly spotted a baby leopard hiding in the long grass at the side of the dirt track. We watched as it slowly crept up to us, thinking we couldn't see it, and waited for the best shot.

'Unfortunately, Sergey was struggling with his camera as the leopard was too close to him. So as he was blind to what the Leopard was doing he didn't see it get right up close to his van.

'The it just leaped on to the roof - you can clearly see how he felt by his facial expression!'

Yikes! The leopard then set upon Ivanov's bag and refused to let go

Part-time Russian wildlife photographer Mr Ivanov, from the city of Kirov, who ventured to the wilds of Africa last year, added: "It was amazing - we never thought this small leopard could jump on to the roof of the car.

'My friend was scared. I was frightened too even though I was on the roof of the other car as you expect it to begin attacking.

'But we soon relaxed as we understood that this big kitten was just playing.'

After realising the leopard was harmless, the pair jumped down from their vehicles and begin interacting with the playful the animal.

But, as the little leopard took a shine to Mr Kotelnikov - whom it had earlier scared - the cheeky kitten jumped on to his bag and smashes his camera into pieces.

The 44-year-old, from Kirov in Russia, said: 'I wasn't really upset - as this was the last day of our safari!

'And the joy of getting so close to a wild animal made up for all the sorrow I felt about my broken camera.

'The leopard did leave me with small bruises on my hands and face from where it kept jumping up on me.

'They are strong animals even at that age.'

Popular: Tourist from all over the world travel to Namibia to enjoy safari trips



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