A wildlife photographer got the s.h.o.ck of his life when this young leopard leaped right onto the roof of his Land Rover.
Sergey Kotelnikov looked petrified when the creature jumped onto the vehicle while he was on safari in Namibia, near its border with Botswana.
Mr Kotelnikov’s jaw dropped in p.a.nic as she lunged towards him. But his expression turned to astonishment as the leopard, obviously only curious, calmly sat down in front of him.
Then, astonishingly, Mr Kotelnikov and fellow photographer Sergey Ivanov, who took the photographs from an adjacent Land Rover, climbed down from their vehicles and played with the leopard.
Sh.ock and aw.e: F.ear is etched on the face of photographer Sergey Kotelnikov as the young leopard leaps onto the roof of his vehicle during a safari in Namibia
Curious cat: The leopard settles down for a closer look as the photographer’s expression turns to amazement
The amateur Russian photographers had climbed onto the roofs of their separate vehicles after spotting the leopard in the long grass.
Mr Ivanov, 50, said: ‘We were “sh.oo.ti.ng” big cats in a private park in Namibia not far from the Botswana border.
‘We both spotted a baby leopard hiding at the side of the dirt track. We watched as it slowly crept up to us and waited for the best shot.
Powerful: The amazing photographs were taken by Sergey Ivanov who was on the roof of an adjacent vehicle
‘Unfortunately, Sergey was struggling with his camera as the leopard was too close. He was blind to what the leopard was doing so didn’t see it get right up close to his van.
‘The it just leaped on to the roof – you can clearly see how he felt by his facial expression.’
Mr Ivanov added: ‘It was amazing, My friend was scared. I was frightened too even though I was on the roof of the other car.
‘But we soon relaxed as we understood that this big kitten was just playing.’
Playtime, but it’s a bit rough: The leopard attacks Mr Kotelnikov’s camera bag. His camera was broken during the episode
Tussle: The leopard eventually let go, leaving the Russians with bruises, and some extraordinary photographs
After realizing the leopard meant them no harm, the photographers jumped down from their vehicles and begin playing with her.
The only drawback was when the play got a little rough and 44-year-old Mr Kotelnikov’s camera was smashed into pieces.
He said: ‘I wasn’t really upset – as this was the last day of our safari. And the joy of getting so close to a wild animal made up for all the sorrow I felt about my broken camera.
‘The leopard did leave me with small bruises on my hands and face from where she kept jumping up on me. They are strong animals even at that age.’
Abundant wildlife: Tourists from all over the world travel to Namibia to go on safari