The African leopard is the most secretive and elusive wild game among the big cats. The African leopard is the most beautiful and elegant big cat with an elongated body.
With long tail and relatively short legs that make it a powerfully-built predator. An African leopard is a silent animal that stands at 2/3 Meters at the shoulder with great variations in color prints. These variations mainly depend on location and habitat.
Male African leopards are relatively larger with an average weight of 6kg-91kg than females that weigh 35kg – 40kg with an average life span of 15 years. Their color patterns vary from black to deep gold to tawny to pale yellow interlocked with black rosettes all over the back while the belly, head and lower limbs are spotted with solid black.
Scientific name; Panthera pardus pardus
Where and how african leopard live;
Leopards are generally the most antisocial wild animals among the African big cats. Males are the most solitary and live in a large territory with a few females whom they only meet during the mating period. These leopards breed throughout the year and give birth to 2 to 3 cubs on average.
Leopards in africa live in a variety of environments like deserts and semi-desert regions of southern Africa, rainforests of West and Central Africa, savanna grasslands of East and southern Africa, arid regions of North Africa, mountainous environments on Mt. Kenya and in some urban and suburban parts of sub-Saharan Africa. All these habitants are evidence that African leopards can survive in all conditions but they mainly tend enjoy dense riverine forests, rocky landscapes, desert bushes in both cold and warm climates.
Young leopards are called cubs which are cared for by their mothers who spend half of their life span taking care of them. Female leopards dig dens for their cubs to hide them from prey until they are able to accompany her and they are weaned at 3 months. Leopards tend to migrate in case they sense danger in their current habitant.
What african leopards eat;
Leopards actively hunt and kill most prey during the night between sunset and sunrise. African Leopards are opportunist predators meaning they Ambush or stalk their prey and pounce when close enough, these big cats kill their prey through suffocation by grabbing it by the throat and biting down with their powerful jaws. These Elegant Leopards are mainly carnivorous hence feed on small animals, fish, reptiles, birds and medium size animals.
Best places to see find leopards on an Africa safari tour.
Having understood the African leopard’s structure, behavior and feeding habits, now it’s all talk about the best places in Africa to find these great African big cats. Leopards are almost found all around Africa. However these are the best destinations where leopards are likely to be seen on any African safari since leopards are very solitary and nocturnal.
South Luangwa National Park, Zambia,
Located in the eastern part of Zambia in the Luangwa valley, South Luangwa national park is home to the highest number of African Leopards in Zambia. South Luangwa national park is the big cats’ haven due to its woodland habitat and variety of wildlife in the park that act as food to these big cats for example large numbers of antelopes and zebras. This park has become a popular destination due to its wildlife density and easy accessibility. While on a safari in South Luangwa, leopards can easily be spotted in daytime resting in trees and even hunting in clear sight of safari vehicles. Since leopards are most active in the night, Night game drives in the valley are a specialty in the part and seeing leopards on a night drive is guaranteed.
Moremi Game Reserve in Okavango Delta, Botswana
Located on the eastern side of the Okavango delta, Moremi Game Reserve is home to the highest number of leopards in Botswana and it’s one of the most visited safari destinations in the country. Moremi Game Reserve is composed of wetlands, floodplains, woodlands and open grasslands with lazy water collecting in the lagoons that attract a wide range of wild game like large herds of elephant, antelope, buffalo, spotted hyena, white rhino and birds that are food to the carnivorous leopards who surprise them during their resting times at the delta area.
Leopard sighting while on a safari in the Moremi game reserve is almost guaranteed as they are usually sited resting on tree branches as they await to surprise their prey during their active hours. Night game drives are always organized for those who wish to see leopards active in the night.
Samburu National Park & Masai Mara reserves, Kenya
Situated along the Ewaso Ng’iro River in the Samburu County in Kenya, Samburu is said to be the best place to see the African Leopards on a safari in Kenya. Composed of arid woodland with rocky outcrops and thick riverine bush that act as perfect hideouts for these big cats. Samburu national park will give you a perfect safari in Kenya since it also has a wide range of other wildlife animals and over 350 species of birds for a perfect birding safari.
Masai mara national park is undoubtfuly the most famous safari destination for big cat lovers. It prides of the high number of lions, cheetahs and the elusive leopards that mainly occupy the areas along the masai mara rivers and it’s the reason BBC’s Big Cat Diaries chose that location. Leopards in the park can easily be seen roaming around and others hiding in the tall grasses while a few on the trees during the massive migration in July to November.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Located in the northern part of Tanzania at the Kenya Masai mara boarder and Mt. Kilimanjaro, Serengeti National Park is the best place to find African Leopards on safari in Tanzania. The mara – Serengeti ecosystem is undoubtedly the best big cat environment in Africa. Leopards in Serengeti can be seen around the rocky outcrops that are scatted all around the savanna grasslands. Leopards are best seen in the lobo area in the northern Serengeti, the mwiba in the south and the Seronera Valley in the branches of the yellow bark acacia trees or kigelia trees.
Londolozi, Sabi Sands Game Reserve-Kruger National Park, South Africa.
Located around the Sand River, londolozi is home to the highest number of leopards in Sabi sands in South Africa. Located at the western boarder of Kruger national park, sabi sands is the most famous tourist destination for African cats in South Africa. Having a chance to sight the African leopard is almost guaranteed while on your safari in this reserve as leopards are always seen resting on tree branches or roaming around the reserve quietly with an aim of ambush their prey.
Night game drives are always organized in this reserve to give tourists a chance to have a closer look of the elusive cats while in their most active hours. The riverside vegetation and thick limbed trees in the reserve are one of the reasons why sabi sands is home to a large amount of these big cats since favors prey survivor and vegetation for their surprise attack of their prey.
Other best places to see African Leopards on a safari in Uganda.
Leopards are found in Murchison falls national park in the north western part of Uganda, lake Mburo in the south western part of Uganda. However, they are best viewed while on a safari in Kidepo national park in the north eastern part of Uganda since this park is so much isolated with few human activity which is typically the most favorable environment for their growth. Finally, leopard have also been recorded all around Queen Elizabeth national park in the western part of the country.