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Leopard

Leopards are almost exclusively solitary, and as nocturnal hunters, spend most of their day time sleeping up trees. They often look supremely comfortable, even in the most unlikely positions.
Leopards are larger and chunkier than cheetahs, being built for strength.
They have to be able to carry their prey (sometimes twice their body weight) up trees, where they stash it free from predators such as leopards and hyaenas. Their body spots look like pawprints, being grouped in rosettes. .
Leopards hunt by trying to sneak up on their prey and trying to get as near to it as possible before pouncing.

They are thought to be commoner than cheetahs but they are very hard to see. Therefore whenever they are seen, they almost inevitable have a circle of vehicles around them. We came upon this female leopard in the late afternoon, with many vehicles underneath. We decided on our driver-guide's advice just to bide our time, and all the other vehicles departed within twenty minutes, leaving us to have a solitary audience with her until she was ready to go for food.
Their call is often heard at night, and sounds like someone sawing wood.

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Sleeping leopard
Leopard
Leopard walking towards camera
 
 

The female leopard (right) was walking towards the bait at the lodge when suddenly she dived into long grass, emerging with a Spring Hare in her mouth: just an amuse-guele!

Leopard lying, alert, on fallen tree trunk
Leopard with a Spring Hare in its mouth
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Text and images © Liz Leyden, 2008
Email: liz [at] v-liz [dot] com
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