From one spot to another, these leopards gave us the run around!

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This female, together with her cub, led us through bushes and ditches before being able to slip past our vehicle and make off in a direction where we could not follow them.

 

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Leopards are the most elusive of the cats, and often sightings are obscured by vegetation or impenetrable thickets and drainage lines. This female had a young cub in tow and it was therefore understandable why she was reticent to come out into the open. Both male and females are adept at leading game viewers in and out of areas that test both the driving skills of the field guides and the capabilities of the vehicle.

FYI: Youngsters will suckle for up to 3 months and hidden for their first 8 weeks as they often fall prey to larger predators, like lion and hyena.

 

If you spot this dangling from a tree branch, there is every possibility that there are teeth attached to the hidden part. This is why leopard sightings are often so difficult, as, much like scuba diving you have to look both above and below for signs of these elusive felines.

 

Once we discovered this young female relaxing on the branch of a tree, she was prepared to stare down at us with disdain. In this particular sighting, vehicles had to come in and out from the same narrow gap in a clump of thorn trees. This meant that although we got some quality images, we could only stay a short while before allowing other vehicles into the sighting.

 

One of the defences that leopards use to escape other predators is their ability to climb higher and faster than most of the other cats of a similar size. Lions can climb if they are forces to, as can cheetah. Many of the smaller cats are adept at scaling trees but do not pose a threat to leopards.

Did you know? In a fight between a lion and a leopard, the winner would most certainly be the lion. Not only is the former heavier, 150-190kg as compared to the  35-45kg  of the latter and the canine of a lion is bigger than that of a leopard by almost 2,54cm!

 

There is an innate beauty and presence that this feline shares with no other cat. The markings on the face, like stripes on a zebra, are unique and it is these head markings that are used for identification purposes in research projects.

Did you know? Leopards play an important role in African myths and legends, and they often feature in African sporting emblems.

 

Like all predators, especially the cats, they have a way of making you feel that they are staring straight into your soul.

FYI: Much like domestic cats,  leopards growl when angry and purr when content. The most recognizable of their vocalizations is a rasping cough that is used to announce their presence to other leopards.

 

At first glance visitors to game reserves might mistake cheetah and leopards but there are many obvious differences. The immediately noticeable difference is the size and shape of the head.

Fun Fact: Aside from their physical aspects, cheetahs have spots that are a clear black spot separated from all the others. Leopards, on the other hand, have rosettes that are small, irregular and are grouped together.

 

 

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