A baby leopard has been pictured suckling a lioness in the wild, in the first ever documented example of interspecies parenting of its kind.
The five-year-old lioness, called Nosikitok was reclining on the grass and nursing a leopard cub, thought to be no more than three-weeks-old. The image was taken by a touris at a lodge in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a United Nations official World Heritage site.
“To observe a thing like his is very unusual,” said Ingela Jansson, head of KopeLion, a conservation group attempting to resolve ongoing issues between lions and people living nearby who hunt big cats in an effort to protect their livestock.
Leopards are being wiped out in one of their strongholds
The lioness wears a GPS collar allowing researchers to track her. Ms Jansson said she believed she may have lost her cubs and, in a brief moment of vulnerability, allowed the baby leopard to feed. The cub had in turn lost its mother, who may have been killed by the lioness, as the two species regard one another as competition.