Leap to safety – Red lechwe spring over water to safety

These red lechwe gracefully leapt to safety at the first sign of danger.

After being alerted by a kudu’s cry, the antelope-like creatures arced through the air to escape an oncoming cheetah.

Pic by Mike Sutherland/Caters News

All of the red lechwe, except one, managed to clear the four-metre wide stretch of wider with one bound.

The red lechwe were photographed by South African safari guide and photographer Mike Sutherland in the Okavango Delta.

Mike, 30, said: “The camp is located on an oscillated island, completely surrounded by water, and so each time we left the camp we would need to take a 25minute boat ride.

“However, on the way we would encounter wildlife regularly, including hippos, crocodiles, elephants, red lechwe or other antelope.

“On a particular morning, we were on the boat, heading to our vehicle to begin our game drive, and came across a herd of red lechwe.

Pic by Mike Sutherland/Caters News

“Upon approaching them in a small water channel, roughly four metres wide, we noticed they were slightly on edge and acting as if they had seen something they were not sure of.

“All were facing in one direction, motionless, staring intently to work out what they had seen.

“This would often indicate the presence of a predator nearby so we stuck around with them and waited to see if anything transpired.

“Moments later we heard a loud bark from a kudu, a sure sign of present danger, and the red lechwe took this as a sign to get to safety.

Pic by Mike Sutherland/Caters News

“They all began to move toward the channel, in front of us, and then one by one they began to jump. First the big bull, with the large horns, and then younger animals and females followed.

“They landed on the other side, and again turned back and looked in the direction of the supposed danger, and so did we. There was a beautiful female leopard.

“She had been moving through some thick vegetation, and had been seen by the Kudu, who made an alarm call and alerted other antelope in the area of the danger close by.

“Red lechwe themselves are a semi-aquatic antelope species that thrives in watery marshlands and are adapted to do well in such areas.

“So, whilst they would usually be seen moving through shallow water or marshlands, to witness them jump over a channel and photograph it, it rare in itself.”