These incredible photos show the moment a jaguar snuck up on an unsuspecting vulture and quickly turned the bird into a meal before it had a chance to escape.
Texas web designer Khanh Le captured the moment on film while in The Pantanal in Brazil. The group had been following the jaguar for about an hour along the river bank when the dramatic scene unfolded before their eyes.
In a stalk-and-ambush style typical of jaguars, the stealthy cat silently emerges from the bushes and pounces on the bird as it perches near the water’s edge. Once the vulture notices the jaguar, it takes to the air in an attempt to escape, but doesn’t get very far.
With lightning reflexes, the cat snatches the bird mid-air and pins it to the ground.
While vultures are recognized worldwide as opportunistic scavengers, jaguars will eat almost animal they can get their hands on. In fact, they’ve been known to prey on at least 87 species.
After a quick battle — with the vulture struggling to evade its predator — the triumphant jaguar walks away with the bird dangling from its jaws.
Jaguars are incredible hunters, regularly taking down adult caimans and other prey by biting straight through their skull and into the brain.
Their numbers are on the decline, thanks to habitat loss, illegal trade and retaliatory killings by livestock farmers. They’ve been almost completely wiped out of the southwestern United States, with one of the last remaining jaguars killed and skinned recently. But the majestic cats appear to be thriving in Brazil’s Pantanal region, where abundant prey and conservation efforts are on their side.