During a recent tour with a Dutch Tour Group on Safari in the Kruger National Park we saw this leopard dragging her kill underneath the road through a water drainage pipe to come out on the other side. She had to drag the kill a long way to get to a tree big enough, and she had to stop and rest frequently. It was an incredible sighting !!!
Leopards are skilled climbers and strong beasts and are capable of carrying animals much heavier than themselves. They will often drag their prey into the fork of a tree several meters off the ground. The King of African Trees, the Marula tree, is frequently used for this purpose in the Kruger Park. Not only is the carcass protected high up in the shaded canopy against scavengers, the Leopard is also able to feed undisturbed over the period of a couple of days. Leopards eat a variety of food, but their main diet in the Kruger Park is the Impala antelope, which is also the most abundant animal in the Park. Baboons and Leopards are ancient enemies and Leopards will often stalk baboons sleeping in trees at night. Their varied diet also includes fish.
The leopard's hunting technique is to either ambush or to stalk its prey. It tries to get as close as possible to its target, and then makes a brief and explosive charge (up to 60km/h), pouncing on and dispatching its prey with a bite to the neck. Leopards do not tend to chase their prey over any kind of distance and will give up if the initial element of surprise is lost and the intended victim gets away.
It is believed that each individual leopard kills approximately 20 animals per year, and that they eat about a third of the carcass, which works out to about 400kg of meat per year…or about 1 kilogram of meat a day. They lick the fur off the carcass of its prey before they start feeding, and normally start by eating from the thighs or the chest.
It is estimated that there are approximately 1000 Leopards in the Kruger National Park. They are highly adaptable creatures, capable of living in semi-desert conditions as well as dense subtropical bush. Their territories can vary in size from 10 to several hundred square kilometers. A male will defend his territory against other males, and will share his territory with several females. They scratch trees and use urine to mark their territories.
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. Leopards can survive for long periods without drinking, satisfying all their moisture needs from their prey.
Leopards are the second biggest African cats (after the Lion), weighing between 60 and 70kg’s. Unlike the Lion, the Leopard is a silent creature, only occasionally emitting a cough-like call.
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