By Daily Mail Reporter
It may look like one of nature's heartwarming interactions but the outcome sadly does not have a happy ending.
This at first apparently playful encounter between leopard and newborn steenbok (part of the antelope family) was captured by a safari guide in the Sabi Sand Game reserve, in South Africa.
The big cat seemed to want to make friends with the calf for 45 minutes and the small creature was so unafraid of the predator it even tried to suckle milk from it.
Fearless: The baby Steenbok wanders away from the leopard but the big cat doesn't take her eyes off her prey
But then nature opened up its powerful claw and the leopard decided playing with the Bambi lookalike was probably not as much fun as eating it.
In a flash, he killed the newborn, which had foolishly ventured out into the brush after being hidden in a nearby bush by its terrified mother, who was powerless to intervene.
Safari guide, Marius Croetzee, 30, from Durban, was travelling by Land Rover he and his clients witnessed nature at its most heart-wrenching from only six yards away.
The large leopard played with the calf for 45 minutes and the small creature was so unafraid of the predator it even tried to suckle milk from it
Marius said: 'I got a call over the radio that a female leopard were located close to the lodge and that she was busy stalking.
'The mother stashed the lamb in thick scrub while feeding nearby, when it was caught she ran away for her own safety.
'It is not uncommon for a leopard to make more than one kills if the opportunity presents itself.
The calf's terrified mother was powerless to intervene and stop the baby being killed and eaten
'Upon arriving at the scene I witnessed the leopard sitting with the steenbok in her paws. The lamb was new born and completely oblivious to the danger it was in.
'It had no fear, and at one stage even tried to suckle from the female leopard. This was a first for me in and in more than 12 years of safari guiding I have not seen it again
'People were absolutely amazed and felt sad, but they realised that this is nature in its rawest form.'
The leopard eventually got bored and killed the calf, which was only hours old
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
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By Daily Mail Reporter