Curiosity nearly killed this cat.
A leopard’s attempt to nab an easy meal backfired terribly after a troop of 50 baboons banded together and beat the spots off of it.
Footage of the interspecies beatdown has amassed over a million views online as wildlife fans praised the small primates for their courage.
“At that moment, I realized I was witnessing something extraordinary,” accountant Ricky da Fonseca, 30, told LatestSightings of the incredible moment, which he shot while on safari in South Africa’s Kruger National Park — which seems to be the veritable ground zero for viral animal brawl videos.
The group had reportedly pulled up at the south of the Tshokwane picnic site, where visitors generally stop for mid-morning brunch or late-afternoon snacks.
They’d been on the hunt for lions they had spotted earlier, but “the bush had something even more special in store for us,” Fonseca said.
“We pulled to the side, surprised to see a male leopard leisurely strolling on the side of the road,” the numbers cruncher recalled. “As I repositioned for a better angle, that’s when I noticed a troop of baboons playing in the road ahead. This was getting exciting!”
Given that the troop numbered around 50 members, Fonseca initially thought there was no way that the big cat would make a move, but then the predator’s “curiosity seemed to get the better of him.”
“The leopard stealthily disappeared into the grass on the roadside. He was in full-on stalk mode,” Fonseca recalled. “As the leopard closed in on the baboons, anticipation hung in the air.”
He continued, “Suddenly, with a burst of speed, the leopard sprang from the grass in an attempt to catch one of the baboons off guard.”
Accompanying footage shows the leopard stalking through the grass along the side of a car-lined highway, its sinewy body perfectly camouflaged against the brush as it makes a bee-line for the baboon army.
Then, all of a sudden, the beast lunges at the pack of simians, lunch seemingly within its grasp.
However, the critter’s dreams of some simian fast food fizzle when the primate posse gangs up on the beast and starts walloping it into oblivion.
Video taken from a closeup angle shows the courageous apes mobbing the leopard, before chasing into the undergrowth a la fed-up townspeople running a villain out of town in an Old Western.
“The charge was led by what looked like the dominant male,” said 38-year-old Merve Mersinligil, a pianist who filmed the second clip of the counterattack. “He jumped the leopard almost like a rugby tackle, biting, hitting, and shouting like there was no tomorrow.”
Fonseca chalked up the baboons’ success to the fact that they “reacted very quickly” and “attacked as a troop.”
“This threw the leopard off, and they capitalized, surrounding it, screaming, and biting at it,” he said. “They showed no mercy at all.”
The leopard’s status is yet unclear, however, Fonseca claimed that it sustained a few “bruises and cuts” and that its “ego was more hurt than his body.”
In other words, it epitomized the expression “biting off more than you can chew.”
Needless to say, this counterattack marked a major triumph for the baboons, which are listed as a favorite prey of leopards.
This isn’t the first time baboons have taken on a much larger animal.
In March, three hikers in South Africa sustained broken legs after “agitated” baboons rolled a large boulder down at them.