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The leopard (Panthera pardus) is a member of the Felidae family and the smallest of the four "big cats," the other three being the tiger, lion and jaguar. There are nine recognized subspecies of leopard. All subspecies except the African leopard can be found in Asia, South Asia, and India.

Leopards are the least social – and perhaps the most beautiful – of the African big cats.  They usually keep to themselves, lurking in dense riverine bush or around rocky koppies, emerging to hunt late in the afternoon or at night.  Unlike the lion, the leopard is a silent creature, only occasionally emitting a cough-like call.

Hunting Skills: The leopard’s hunting technique is to either ambush its prey or stalk it by stealthy movements in the tall grass.  In either instance, it tries to get a close as possible to its target.  It then makes a brief and explosive charge (up to 60km/h), pouncing on its prey and dispatching it with a bite to the neck.  Leopards do not have the aptitude to chase their quarry over any kind of distance and will give up if the initial element of surprise is lost and the intended victim gets away.  Leopards can also hunt from trees, where their spotted coats allow them to blend with the leaves until they spring with a deadly pounce.

Leopards are capable of carrying animals heavier than themselves and will often drag their prey into the fork of a tree several metres off the ground.  This tree “lardering” protects the carcass against scavengers such as hyenas and allows a few days of undisturbed feeding.

These big cats eat a variety of food from wildebeest to fish, but most of their diet comes in the form of antelope.  Baboons and leopards appear to be ancient enemies.  Leopards will often stalk baboons sleeping in the trees at night, and try to carry off one of the troop.  There has been a case recorded in which a leopard that tried to attack a baboon in broad daylights was torn to pieces by the rest of the troop, which quickly came to the shrieking primate’s defense.

When human settlements are present, leopards often attack dogs and, occasionally, people.

Leopards are strong swimmers and very much at home in the water, where they sometimes eat fish or crabs.

A leopard will often lick the fur off the carcass of its prey before it feeds, starting with the thighs or the chest.  Leopards are highly adaptable creatures, capable of living in semi-desert conditions as well as dense subtropical bush.  Their territories can also vary in size from 10 square kilometers, to several hundred square kilometers.  The animals scratch trees and use urine to mark their turf.  A male will defend this territory against other males, but will share territory with females.

Leopards can survive for long periods without drinking, satisfying all their moisture needs from their prey

Breeding: Male and female leopards spend only a brief time together while they are mating and then go their separate ways.  The female will then raise the cubs on her own.  Female leopards can give birth at any time of the year. They usually have two greyish cubs with barely visible spots. The mother hides her cubs and moves them from one safe location to the next until they are old enough to begin playing and learning to hunt. Cubs live with their mothers for about two years—otherwise, leopards are solitary animals.

Leopard Spots: Most leopards are light colored with distinctive dark spots that are called rosettes, because they resemble the shape of a rose. Black leopards, which appear to be almost solid in color because their spots are hard to distinguish, are commonly called black panthers.

Trophy: In addition to cape buffalo the Limpopo province of South Africa also boasts with being one of the densest populated areas with leopard. We have a 90% success rate on the majestic cats – Leopard and Lion. 

The leopard is the most elusive of the Big Five that can be hunted in Africa. Patience is key when hunting leopard. These cats are normally hunted over bait and will require you to spend many nights sitting quietly in a blind awaiting that brief opportunity when the leopard presents a good shot. A successful leopard hunt is never a guarantee, but spending enough time in pursuit will most definitely increase the chances of a successful hunt. We recommend at least ten days, preferably fourteen.