Leopards: the most secret feline

by MMC
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The leopard – one of the Big 5 – is a very elusive animal that lives in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. Their wide geographic distribution has made them adaptable to many different environments and habitats, with some living in hot or cold climates, deserts, semi-deserts, grasslands, rainforests, grasslands, and urban areas. The African leopard is the most common leopard species, but leopard populations are in significant decline worldwide.

A leopard’s coat is covered in distinctive spots called rosettes, because they resemble the shape of a rose. These irregularly shaped rosettes create beautiful patterns that stand out against the light fur. The rosette patterns combined with brown, black and yellow colors help leopards blend into their surroundings, allowing them to stalk their prey in secret.

Unlike the highly social society the Lions, leopards are solitary creatures that like to have their own space and home range designated by urine and claw marks. Among all big cats, leopards are the most talented climbers and spend much of their time in trees searching for prey, storing their food away from other animals, or sleeping.

When a female leopard gives birth to two or three cubs, she abandons her nomadic lifestyle and keeps her cubs safe from danger for eight weeks. A female leopard will move her cubs from one place to another until they are old enough to learn to hunt, and they will taste meat for the first time when they are six or seven weeks old. The cubs will live with their mother for about two years, then begin their solitary lives.

Their solitary nature and effective camouflage make leopards particularly difficult to spot on safari, making it an exciting experience once these cats are spotted in the wild!

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