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The Spotted Panther

These creatures are by far the most exciting to see in the bush, usually because they are so elusive and you feel sooooo lucky to have spotted one when you do.  Surprisingly their rosette spotted coats, ensure they are almost invisible in the dappled shade of the trees, with only a few sharp pair of eyes catching the flick of a tail or ear.  Leopards are solitary cats, only usually associating with an adult long enough to mate. It has been found that individuals can have overlapping home ranges where defending their personal territories.  These beautiful cats are usually active at dusk through to dawn, preferring to spend the hotter hours of the day high up in the branches of trees or in thick, cool undergrowth.  They are the most adaptable of the cats, found in a diverse range of habitats, from deserts to mountains and even in settled areas, resorting to domestic animals where their usual prey is not found.

They have been recorded to feed off anything from beetles to antelope 3 times their own weight, birds, rabbits and even a few small carnivores.  The leopard stalks it prey with patience and complete silence, trying to get as close as possible before pouncing.  Being tremendously strong, they drag their kill up a tree to protect it from the hyenas and jackals, who are always up for an easy meal, and by shear numbers will chase of a lone adult.  This is strange though, as an average adult will usually weigh more than a spotted hyena, and they certainly look more dangerous, but their inferiority complex with often mean they lose their kills, especially during the daylight hours, to scavengers.

Mama leopards usually have a litter of one to three cubs, born after a 90 to 100 day gestation period, and who will stay with their mom for about 2 years.  The first 6 weeks of their life they are usually hidden in dense thickets, caves or hollows and are moved periodically to keep them safe from other predators.  The cubs eyes open after about 8 days and begin eating meat after 6 weeks.

A leopards ‘sawing’ call is not something that you would expect to be uttered by a cat but can often be heard during the night, travelling long distances over the airwaves.  This call is uttered to advertise its presence to other leopards and to remind them of the territory held by the calling leopard.

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