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Leopard - Panthera pardus
Topic Started: Jan 7 2012, 08:52 PM (41,420 Views)
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Leopard - Panthera pardus

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Geographic Range
Pantera pardus could at one time be found from British Isles to Japan and throughout most of Asia. Today they can still be found in Africa, except for the true deserts of Sahara and Kalahari, and some parts of Asia such as Sri Lanka. Leopards are more common in Eastern and Central Africa. Conversely, they are rare in Western and Northern Africa and most of Asia (Nowak, 1997; Sanderson, 1972).

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Biogeographic Regions:
palearctic (native ); oriental (native ); ethiopian (native ).

Elevation : up to 5638 m (high) (18492.64 ft)

Leopards live in highly variable habitats. They feel just as secure in swampy tropical forests as in rugged mountains. They live in lowland forests, mountains, grasslands, brush country, and deserts. A corpse of a leopard was once found at an elevation of 5,630 meters on Kilimanjaro, and not frozen into the ice as some people had suggested (Guggisberg, 1975; Nowak, 1997).

These animals are found in the following types of habitat:
temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial .

Physical Description
Mass : 28 to 90 kg; avg. 59 kg (61.6 to 198 lbs; avg. 129.8 lbs)
Length : 910 to 2920 mm; avg. 1915 mm (35.83 to 114.96 in; avg. 75.39 in)

These cats have an elongate and muscular body. Their paws are broad and their ears are short. In tropical regions their coats tend to be shorter and sleeker, whereas in colder climates their fur is longer and denser. The coloration varies from the color of straw to grayish to even chesnut. The backs of the ears are black except for a spot either located centrally or near the tips. These appear to other animals as eyes. The throat, chest, belly, and the insides of the limbs are white. The rest of the head, throat, chest, and limbs all have small black spots. The belly has larger black spots, almost like blotches. Region and habitat have an affect on the appearance of P. pardus. In Africa, leopards living in hilly areas tend to be larger than those living in lowlands. There is a tendency to melanism (black coloration) in this species. This characteristic is more frequent in densely forested areas where being darker is probably beneficial in remaining unseen as compared to open areas. Whether spotted or black, leopards' coloration is extrememly effective. Scientists have been unable to spot these cats just a few yards away even knowing that they were present. Leopards have been recorded as long as 2.92 meters but that is extreme, 1.37-1.67 is more commom(Guggisberg, 1975; Nowak, 1997).

Males may follow a female. Eventually fighting for reproductive rights can take place (Nowak, 1997).

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Depending on the region, leopards may mate all year round (India and Africa) or seasonally during January to February (Manchuria and Siberia). The estrous cycle lasts about 46 days and the female usually isin heat for 6-7 days. Cubs are usually born in a litter of 2-3, but infant mortality is high and mothers are not commonly seen with more than 1-2 cubs. The pregnant females find a cave, crevice among boulders, hollow tree, or thicket to give birth and make a den. Cubs open their eyes after a period of 10 days. The fur of the young tends to be longer and thicker than that of adults. Their pelage is also more gray in color with less defined spots. Around 3 months the infants begin to follow the mother out on hunts. At one year of age leopard young can probably fend for themselves but they remain with the mother for 18-24 months (Nowak, 1997, Guggisberg, 1975).

The females of this species tend to take care of the young but there have been reports of males helping the nursing mother and child, by bringing them kills for example (Guggisberg, 1975).

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Parental investment: male parental care ; female parental care .

Leopards live 21-23 years in captivity. In the wild, life span is not exactly known. It can be approximated from reports of "man-eaters" (see negative effects), which are easier to follow; from the beginnings of their attacks until the end, lifespan in the wild can be estimated around to be 7-9 years (Guggisberg, 1975).

Leopards are famous for their ability to go undetected. They may live practically among humans and still be tough to spot. They are graceful and stealthy. Amongst the big cats they are probably the most accomplished stalkers. They are good, agile climbers and can descend from a tree headfirst. Along with climbing, they are strong swimmers but not as fond of water as tigers; for example, leopards will not lay in water. They are mainly nocturnal but can be seen at any time of day and will even hunt during daytime on overcast days. In regions where they are hunted, nocturnal behavior is more common. These cats are solitary, avoiding one another. However, 3 or 4 are sometimes seen together. Hearing and eyesight are the strongest of these cats' senses and are extremely acute. Olfaction is relied upon as well, but not for hunting. When making a threat, leopards stretch their backs, depress their ribcages between their shoulder blades so they stick out, and lower their heads (similar to domestic cats). During the day they may lie in bush, on rocks, or in a tree with their tails hanging below the treetops and giving them away (Nowak, 1997; Guggisberg, 1975; Leyhausen and Tonkin, 1979).

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Food Habits
The diet of these big cats is surprisingly varied. Prey for this species includes: wildebeest, impalas, reed-bucks, Thomson's gazelles, jackals, baboons, antelopes and storks. These are the most common food sources with Thomson's gazelles and reed-bucks making up the majority. However, other prey are included in leopards' diet. At times they seem to show a preference for canines, even attempting in the past to snatch dogs right from the feet of their masters. They will eat fish and domestic stock such as goats. Droppings in Kilimanjaro were studied and revealed that leopards eat small rodents as well. They are capable of killing apes. They will even eat carrion, scavenging tiger kills. These cats are capable of sneaking right up next to the prey before being spotted, almost appearing from nowhere. Bite marks occur on the nape of the neck and the throat. The bite on the back of the neck often occurs when animals are attacked from behind. The marks on the throat indicate strangulation. These big cats are capable of carrying carcasses bigger than themselves and dragging them up trees to avoid losing prey to other carnivores. They may also store kills in trees for later use (Nowak, 1997; Guggisberg, 1975).

Known predators
wild dogs
Its best defense against predators is simply its spotted or black coloration. Leopards are known for their ability to go undetected; nevertheless, lions, tigers, and crocodiles will hunt these cats. Occasionally packs of Indian wild dogs or African hunting dogs also attack leopards (Guggisberg, 1975).

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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
When living near populated areas these cats will attack and kill domestic stock such as goats and pigs. Where this prey is provided leopards will achieve unusually high densities and the problem persists. They will also attack and kill humans. One particular leopard in India, known as "Kahani man-eater" killed over 200 people although this behavior is not the norm. (Nowak, 1997; Guggisberg, 1975; Mizutani and Jewell, 1998).

Panthera pardus

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In what could perhaps be considered the sighting of the month, rangers and guests were treated to an astounding display of savagery by the Hlarulini Male leopard. He was initially found moving southwards through the southern parts of the open area commonly referred to as The Golf Course. He soon arrived at an adult male impala carcass . The problem for the male leopard was that a hyena was feeding on the impala, and initially he sat some metres off, merely watching the hyena feeding. After a few minutes he sat up and edged forward. Then rather unexpectedly, he dashed towards the hyena and attacked it. He grabbed the hyena’s head between his paws and sank his teeth into its muzzle. He wrestled the hyena to the ground and began strangling it. He held the hyena in this position for almost ten minutes, and eventually the hyena stopped struggling. The leopard then released the motionless creature, collected his impala kill, and moved northwards. Everyone at the sighting thought that the hyena was dead, but upon closer inspection, it became evident that it was still breathing slightly. Over the course of half-an-hour, the hyena’s breathing increased slowly. It eventually managed to get to its feet, but appeared very wobbly. It gathered itself, and then walked off, appearing relatively unscathed.


Impressive feat on the leopard's part but the hyena survived according to the account.
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Additional Info -

Diet -
The known prey of the leopard ranges from dung beetles (Fey 1964) to adult male eland (Kingdon 1977), which can reach 900 kg (Stuart and Stuart 1992a). Bailey (1993) found that at least 92 prey species have been documented in the leopard’s diet in sub-Saharan Africa. The flexibility of the diet is illustrated by Hamilton’s (1976) analysis of leopard scats from Kenya’s Tsavo West National Park, of which 35% contained rodents, 27% birds, 27% small antelopes, 12% large antelopes, 10% hyraxes and hares, and 18% arthropods. Seidensticker (1991a) and Bailey (1993) reviewed the literature, and concluded that leopards generally focus their hunting activity on locally abundant medium-sized ungulate species in the 20-80 kg range, while opportunistically taking other prey. For example, analysis of leopard scats from a Kruger NP study area found that 67% contained ungulate remains, of which 60% were impala, the most abundant antelope, with adult weights of 40-60 kg. Small mammal remains were found most often in scats of sub-adult leopards, especially females (Bailey 1993). Studies have found average intervals between ungulate kills to range from seven (Bailey 1993) to 12-13 days (Hamilton 1976, Le Roux and Skinner 1989). Bailey (1993) estimated average daily consumption rates at 3.5 kg for adult males and 2.8 kg for females.

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Colour Variations
In general, the coat color varies from pale yellow to deep gold or tawny, and is patterned with black rosettes. The head, lower limbs and belly are spotted with solid black. Coat color and patterning are broadly associated with habitat type. Pocock (1932a) found the following trends in coloration for leopards in Africa:

savannah leopards - rufous to ochraceous in color;
desert leopards - pale cream to yellow-brown in color, with those from cooler regions being more grey;
rainforest leopards - dark, deep gold in color;
high mountain leopards - even darker in color than 3).
Black leopards (the so-called "black panthers") occur most frequently in humid forest habitats (Kingdon 1977), but are merely a color variation, not a subspecies.

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Mortality in a protected Leopard population, Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa: A population in decline?
Guy Balme & Luke Hunter

We investigated the causes and rates of mortality in a protected Leopard population in the Phinda Private Game
Reserve, South Africa. Data from 16 radio-tagged Leopards and their cubs were used to determine the causes of
mortality and annual mortality rates for various age and sex classes in the population. Intra-specific strife accounted for
the greatest number of deaths followed by human-related mortality. Males died mainly as a result of human activity
whereas females died from natural causes. The mortality rate for males was significantly higher than for females, and
the annual mortality rate for the population was higher than any previously recorded in Leopards. Rapid turnover of
adult males due to human persecution may have reduced recruitment into the population because social instability
prevented females from raising cubs. If the present rates of mortality and recruitment are maintained, Phinda may
represent a population sink for Leopards with poor conservation and tourism prospects.

Leopards are often killed as perceived or real problem animals, or by commercial trophy hunting operations. Despite electrified game-fencing along most borders, Leopards move freely between adjacent properties and, because Phinda is long and narrow, few individual Leopards have their entire home range
within the boundaries of the reserve (Balme & Hunter, unpub. data). The result is that most individual Leopards considered protected on Phinda are actually exposed to high levels of hunting due to frequent movements off the reserve.
In this paper, we present the results of the first 29 months of the study, addressing three main questions:
1. What are the causes of mortality to Leopards in the Phinda population?
2. What is the annual mortality rate of the Phinda Leopard population for different age and sex classes?
3. Does Phinda effectively protect Leopards?

Causes of mortality

Eight radio-collared Leopards died during the study, for which the cause of death was certain or probable in seven cases (Table 1). Intra-specific conflict and anthropogenic deaths were equally important causes of mortality for adults and sub-adults combined, both claiming three individuals. Natural causes (excluding other Leopards) were responsible for one and possibly two additional deaths.

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Intra-specific clashes killed one adult male and two sub-adult females. M1 was a resident territorial male when killed by the adult male, M5. The sub-adult female F10 was killed by an uncollared adult female leopard when almost three years old and displaying the first signs of territorial behaviour (‘sawing’ and scentmarking).
The sub-adult female F15 was 20 months of age when killed by a male Leopard, the sub-adult M14. Additionally, although we have not included juvenile deaths in the estimation of mortality rates, three juveniles were killed by the adult male M13 that had recently become established and was not their sire.
Human-related deaths killed three males. Two adult males M5 and M13 were established territorial males at the time of their disappearance on properties adjacent to Phinda. The sub-adult male, M7 was last located on private property near the town of Hluhluwe, approximately 11km south of Phinda’s southern boundary, when his signal disappeared.
One Leopard was killed by another carnivore. The subadult male, M4 died from septicemia arising from severe bite wounds on the neck, shoulders and hindquarters. We found evidence at the site of a prolonged fight between the Leopard and an adult Spotted Hyaena Crocuta crocuta which was consistent with the bite marks.
We do not know the cause of death of the adult female F2 whose carcass we examined approximately two weeks after death when decomposition was advanced.

Mortality rates
The average annual mortality rate (AMR) of the population between April 2002 and August 2004 was 0.447 (Table 2). The mortality rate for males was significantly higher than for females (p = 0.004, df = 1). Sub-adult males (0.968) had the greatest annual mortality of any cohort, followed by adult males (0.745). Adult females had the lowest mortality rate (0.160) with only one death recorded for the study period.

Causes of mortality
Leopards at Phinda were killed chiefly by other Leopards. Two deaths (M1 and F10) were the result of territorial clashes between same-sex pairs. Leopards are known to defend their territories from same-sex intruders sometimes leading to fatalities (Le Roux & Skinner, 1989) though the proportion of deaths here caused by other Leopards is higher than reported in other detailed studies (Bailey, 1993; Stander et al., 1997). The killing of sub-adult female F15 by a subadult male (M14) is unusual, particularly as these animals had met on previous occasions. F15 was not reproductively mature and M14 typically rebuffed curious approaches from her in past encounters we observed, but his aggression was largely demonstrative and never escalated to physical contact. A similar instance of a male Leopard killing a younger female was documented at Londolozi Private Game Reserve, South Africa (Hes, 1991). Males might regard young, reproductively unavailable females as competitors for food resources and attack them as such, though it is unclear why it happened later rather than sooner in this case.
All radio-tagged Leopards that died due to humanrelated causes were males. Males are more desirable to trophy hunters due to their larger size, and males also utilise larger home ranges and cover greater daily distances than females, increasing their chances of moving off the reserve into areas where they can be hunted (Mizutani & Jewel, 1998; Hunter & Balme, unpubl. data). Importantly, as far as we know, males killed outside Phinda were not shot legally by international hunters with CITES permits. Nonetheless, all three deaths occurred during the legal trophy hunting season between April to November. This may be due to Leopards being mistaken for another legally hunted species but more likely they are killed intentionally by South Africans. Leopards are persecuted intensely by various landowners in the
region and there is little chance of prosecution for illegal killing. We do not know whether the risks for Leopards are elevated during the legal hunting season. It is likely that opportunistic killing of Leopards occurs year-round though increased numbers of local hunters seeking other species in the area during the legal season might result in more Leopards killed then.
Bailey (1993) reported that starvation (mainly of subadults) accounted for the greatest proportion of Leopard deaths in Kruger National Park (KNP). He suggested that sub-adults were more likely to starve due to a related set of factors that included a lack of hunting experience, loss of condition due to increased parasitic infestations, competition for resources with other predators, and seasonal changes in prey abundance and availability of cover. We found no evidence of starvation contributing to Leopard deaths at Phinda. One individual, M7 was emaciated at capture but this was due to serious injuries, probably incurred from a conspecific. His condition improved dramatically post-capture and he made a full recovery. He was clearly foraging successfully for 12 months following capture until February 2004 when he was killed outside Phinda.
The only adult female to die during the study probably succumbed to natural causes. At the time of her death, she was due to give birth and we made no effort to approach her, assuming she was localised with newborn cubs. By the time we decided to investigate, autolysis of the carcass was too advanced to determine a cause but there was no evidence to suggest her death was related to human activity. We found no snares and the site was not close to a boundary where the risk of snaring at Phinda is greatest. She may have died due to complications arising from birth. This is considered unusual in felids (Apps & Du Toit, 2000) but is occasionally recorded: for example, an otherwise healthy Lioness Panthera leo in Pilanesberg National Park died from secondary septicemia due to dystocia (G. van Dyk, Pers. comm.).

High levels of mortality among adult males at Phinda may have had an additive effect on mortality in the population by lowering the reproductive success of females. Although male Leopards provide no parental care to cubs, the presence of the sire allows mothers to raise cubs with a reduced risk of infanticide by foreign males (Hunter et al., in press). There are few reliable observations of infanticide in leopards (see: Ilani, 1986; 1990; Scott & Scott, 2003) but new males entering the population are likely to kill existing cubs. We saw this once during the study period, following the illegal killing of M5. The resulting vacancy was rapidly filled by the male M13 who killed the 4-month old cubs of F12 (which M5 probably sired). Although we observed infanticide only on this occasion, there was limited evidence of successful reproduction in general. During the 29-month study, we observed consorting pairs on 18 occasions involving seven adult females, multiple males and 305 actual matings, yet only seven cubs in three litters were born. Only two cubs are still alive at the time of writing, one of them still dependent on its mother.
That few cubs were produced during the study may be a further consequence of high turnover among males. In Lions, high levels of infanticide further impact reproductive output by reducing the rate at which females conceive (Packer & Pusey, 1983). Lionesses display a period of reduced fertility immediately following the take-over of a pride by a new male coalition. This presumably allows females to assess the fitness of new males and postpone conception until the males are established and the threat of another takeover is reduced. Rapid turnover of male Leopards at Phinda might be driving female Leopards into a reproductive dead-end in which cubs are killed at high rates and subsequent conception is delayed. In an isolated Leopard population in the Judean Desert, Israel, infanticide was the chief reason that not a single individual was recruited into the adult population during a five-year period (Ilani, 1986; 1990).
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Leopard savaging a crocodile caught on camera
Last Updated: 6:01pm BST 18/07/2008

The astonishing spectacle of a leopard savaging a crocodile has been captured for the first time on camera.

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A series of incredible pictures taken at a South African game reserve document the first known time that a leopard has taken on and defeated one of the fearsome reptiles.

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The photographs were taken by Hal Brindley, an American wildlife photographer, who was supposed to be taking pictures of hippos from his car in the Kruger National Park.

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The giant cat raced out of cover provided by scrub and bushes to surprise the crocodile, which was swimming nearby.

A terrible and bloody struggle ensued. Eventually, onlookers were amazed to see the leopard drag the crocodile from the water as the reptile fought back.

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With the crocodile snapping its powerful jaws furiously, the two animals somersaulted and grappled. Despite the crocodile's huge weight and strength, the leopard had the upper hand catching its prey by the throat.

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Eventually the big cat was able to sit on top of the reptile and suffocate it.

In the past, there have been reports of crocodiles killing leopards, but this is believed to the first time that the reverse scenario has been observed.

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Mr Brindley said: 'I asked many rangers in South Africa if they had ever heard of anything like this and they all said no.

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"It just doesn't make sense. The meat you get out of a crocodile is just not worth the risk it takes a predator to acquire. The whole scene happened in the course of about 5 minutes. Then the leopard was gone.

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"I drove away, elated in disbelief. It may have been the most amazing thing I've ever seen."

Ellie Rose, a reptile keeper at London Zoo, said: "Normally, crocodiles are well able to defend themselves against attack. I can't think of any examples of this happening before."

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Leopard Prey Preference


Here is the study:


Here is the abstract:

Leopards Panthera pardus have a catholic diet and are generally thought to prey
on medium-sized ungulates; however, knowledge on which species are actually
preferred and avoided is lacking, along with an understanding of why such
preferences arise. Twenty-nine published and four unpublished studies of leopard
diet that had relative prey abundance estimates associated with them were
analysed from 13 countries in 41 different spatial locations or temporal periods
throughout the distribution of the leopard. A Jacobs’ index value was calculated
for each prey species in each study and the mean of these was then tested against a
mean of 0 using t or sign tests for preference or avoidance. Leopards preferentially
prey upon species within a weight range of 10–40 kg. Regression plots suggest that
the most preferred mass of leopard prey is 25 kg, whereas the mean body mass of
significantly preferred prey is 23 kg. Leopards prefer prey within this body mass
range, which occur in small herds, in dense habitat and afford the hunter minimal
risk of injury during capture. Consequently, impala, bushbuck and common
duiker are significantly preferred, with chital likely to also be preferred with a
larger sample size from Asian sites. Species outside the preferred weight range are
generally avoided, as are species that are restricted to open vegetation or that have
sufficient anti-predator strategies. The ratio of mean leopard body mass with that
of their preferred prey is less than 1 and may be a reflection of their solitary hunting
This model will allow us to predict the diet of leopards in areas where
dietary information is lacking, also providing information to assist wildlife
managers and conservation bodies on predator carrying capacity and predator–
prey interactions.

Here are the details on the specific prey species. Species with a small + or - next to them have enough data to be "statistically significant" (i.e. baboon, buffalo, bushbuck, etc.).

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Do leopards kill forest elephants?
Evidence from northern Congo

Recent genetic data (Roca et al. 2001) suggest
that the genus Loxodonta should be divided
into two distinct species, the savanna elephant
(L. africana) and the forest elephant (L. cyclotis).
Divergence between savanna and forest elephants
may reflect different selective pressures due to the
very different ecological conditions faced by each
taxon, including resource availability and distri-
bution, and predation, which influence morphology,
physiology, behaviour, and social organisation
(Krebs & Davis 1993).
African elephants (Loxodonta africana) display a
range of grouping patterns under different envi-
ronmental conditions (Leuthold 1976: Olivier
1978; Moss 1988; Western & Lindsay 1984;
White et al. 1993). Savannah elephants feed pri-
marily on grass and woody browse (e.g. Owen-
Smith, 1988). Predation pressure is low, though
lions (Panthera leo) may take immature individuals
(Ruggiero 1991a, 1991b; Schaller 1972). The
large (tens to hundreds) group sizes found in
savannah elephants are most likely adaptations to
both low inter-individual feeding competition
and defence from predators (Western & Lindsay,
1984). Exceptionally large groups (>1000 indi-
viduals) may be formed under extreme poaching
pressure (Ruggiero 1991a).
Forest elephants inhabit the dense forests of central
and west Africa, an extremely different environment
from African savannahs. They are generalist
browsers that feed heavily on fruit when available
(Alexandre 1978; Short 1981; White et al. 1993;
Blake 2002). Important resources for forest ele-
phants, such as fruit and minerals, are both spa-
tially and temporally clumped (Blake 2002), and
feeding competition and foraging efficiency are
therefore variable, which favours small, but flexible
group sizes (Weins 1977), which is the case in
forest elephants (Turkalo & Fay 1995; White et al.
1993; White et al. 1995; Querouil et al. 1999).
While small group size may decrease feeding
competition, vulnerability to predators is increased,
compared to that of larger groups.
Forest elephants evolved in the dense forest habitats
of central Africa, where leopards (P. pardus) are
the largest extant predators. Lions were once
common in savannah-gallery forest mosaics, but
did not penetrate the forest interior. Forest leopards
kill and eat large mammals such as okapi (Okapia
johnstonii), forest buffalo (Syncerus caffer nanus),
and gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) (250, 375, and
200 kg respectively) (Fay et al. 1995; Hart et al.
1996), but natural predation of forest elephants
has never been documented and is generally
assumed not to occur. However, a single observa-
tion made in the Nouabal�-Ndoki National Park
(NNNP) of northern Congo in March 2000 sug-
gests that infact forest elephants do face natural
hunting pressure from leopards.
During an extensive ecological survey across the
NNNP, a dead infant elephant was found in 25 cm
deep water in a large forest clearing (called Bais
by local Bayaka people). The carcass was esti-
mated to be fresh (< 48 hours) and the infant
8-10 months old. Initial inspection of the carcass
revealed a moderate quantity of blood in the
trunk that ran out of the end as the trunk was
moved. The rectum was slightly prolapsed. There
were no scratches, wounds, or other obvious signs
of injury or struggle indicating possible causes of
death. On closer observation two groups of small
puncture wounds were found on the chest, left
and right on the pectoral area between the front
legs. The left and right groups comprised 3 and
4 punctures respectively. The size and arrange-
ment of the puncture wounds, 7cm and 5.5 cm
across the longest axis of each, indicated attack by
a leopard. To determine whether the punctures
had penetrated the thoracic cavity, incisions were
made directly down through two of them. Both
punctures clearly penetrated the chest muscles
and entered lung tissue. It was concluded that the
cause of death was directly related to the penetration
of the thoracic cavity, lung laceration and associa-
ted bleeding. The infant appeared to be in good
physical condition suggesting that it was not
Predation of young elephants is generally rare in
savannah elephants. Lions are the most impor-
tant predator, and may take young up to 7 years
old (Ruggiero 1991), however wild dogs (Lycaon
pictus) and hyaenas (Crocuta crocuta) may also
take small elephants (Bere 1966; Sikes 1971).
Predation pressure may be high where predators
occur in large groups (Sikes 1971). Young ele-
phant calves begin wandering several metres from
their mother’s side at c. 6 months of age (Ruggiero
1991a), and they are probably at their most vul-
nerable at this time. A leopard in the forest may
be able to attack an infant elephant some metres
from its mother with relatively little risk, since it
will often be hidden in dense undergrowth. Infact
elephants may offer less risk of injury to the leopard
than other prey of similar size (e.g. forest buffalo)
(Ruggiero 1991a).
While based on only a single observation, this
paper does illustrate that forest elephants may
suffer natural hunting pressure. The potential
risk of predation is probably extremely low, since
this is the first such event reported, however fresh
carcasses are rarely found in the forest due to
rapid decay, and given the extremely small search
area covered during foot surveys, even relatively
common events are difficult to detect in dense
forest conditions. One very reliable Bayaka
tracker in the research team claimed to have seen
a similar kill some years previously, and Bayaka
ethno-ecology corroborates the notion of leopard
predation of elephant calves. While defence of
calves may not be as important for elephants in
forests as it is in savannahs, this observation sug-
gests that natural predation by leopards, and not
just efficiency of resource exploitation, is a deter-
minant of social organisation and behaviour in
forest elephants.
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Leopard Predation on Gorillas & Chimpanzees

2 relevant studies from Gato



Some explanations ....

This is a review of an important article on leopard-gorilla interactions. I posted it in AVA about 2 years ago. In those days there was an intense and ongoing debate on whether leoaprds had actually preyed on adult male gorillas. Some posters insisted that there was no evidence and that gorilla consumption was only due to leoaprds scavenging a dead ape. These posters quoted the article by Fay et al as proof. One of these posters (BadassJosh) had even contacted the gorilla "expert" who appeared in the Discovery Channel AFO show of the gorilla-leopard match. This expert (allegedly) told Badass that leopards only scavenged and there was NO EVIDENCE of real predation on adult gorillas. The article by Fay et al was the evidence of this.

Well, I got that article by Fay et al and posted it then (and I'm posting it now). Contrary to Badass' claims, the article doesn't rule out predation. This shows how unreliable can be the use of posts by experts contacted privately as "evidences". More likely, Badass (a tenacious gorilla fan) filetered these private emails to say what he wanted them to say.

Review of Fay et al begins here ....

I am posting the whole article "Leopard attack on and the consumption of gorillas in the Central African Republic", by J.M Fay et al, Journal of Human Evolution (1995), 29, 93-99.

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This article has been quoted by those who wish to stress that leopard predation on gorillas is not a fact, since leopards scavenging on gorilla carcasses cannot be discounted in all instances of gorilla remainings found in leopard's scats or even in reported agressive interactions.

However, the authors of this article do not rule out scavenging in general, they do it ONLY IN THE SPECIFIC CASE THEY STUDIED. Still, they tend to favor the possibility of predation. They report some related cases when scavenging can be ruled out.


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There is mention that leopard scat near a carcass of a young gorilla, without DIRECT evidence of predation. However they mention the case reported by PPardus and Ntch, based on the eye witness report by Baumgartel (supported by Schaller) NOTE: In these cases of 196-1961 scavenging can be ruled out, since a male gorilla was found dead with slashing wounds that could not have been inflicted by another gorilla (only by a leopard).


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This paragraph sumarizes the maion empiric findings of this paper: gorilla remains in leopard scats and a probable attack by a leopard on an adult male gorilla. Details of this probable attack are described in another extract further ahead.

Notice that

Pygmies in the area state that leopards do predate on gorillas (as well as chimps and humans).

The authors claim that the evidence they found supports the view that leopards prey upon lowland gorillas: This phrase is important, since this paper is quoted by those expressing skepticism on this predation. However, this is not what the authors are expressing.


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This paragraph provides the dates and places of the study: 18 months in 1987-1988, in various places of the Central Afican Republic (CAR). Mention is made also of the date and place of the finding of indigested gorilla toes in leopard's dung.

Photograph od the one of the undigested gorilla digits found in leopard's dung. The article describes tests and observations that were made to determine that these remains correspond to an 11 years old male gorilla.

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The leopard's attack:

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This is a description of a leopard attack against a male gorilla. Notice that it happened at daylight: 17:00 hrs. Also, the marks left in the vegetation by the violence of the encounter, with the gorilla adopting a bipedal position and marks of leopard's clawing found in the trees, as well as "gorilla fear odor" and a broken stick with blood in the bark. Then there are tracks of a gorilla running with leopard tracks superposed. These tracks go for a long distance until the leopard footsteps stop. No gorilla or leopard was found hurt.

This description may yield interesting clues on how these two animals may fight: it seems to be the recount of a failed ambush that degenerated into a fight. I reads as a violent scuffle with both animals attacking and defending, probably the leopard attacked first and failed to kill the ape and was thrown to the ground, or escaped the gorilla's embrace and further counter-attack, probably, climbing into a tree, just to launch another attack. Perhaps there was a round of a attacks and counter-attacks. In the end the gorilla abandons the area, runing, with the leopard pursuing after him (or the other way round).

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Here the authors compare the state of these remains with similar cases of consumption of carcasses in predation and scavanging.

There is mention of cheeta feeding on a 30 kg baboon carcass. This is the first mention I read os this phenomenon. It was probably a cheetah (or various cheetah) scavenging, but could also be predation (I'm trying to find out).


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This is an important paragraph stating the authors'conclusion: they cannot prove, ONLY in this study, with 100% certainty that there was leopard predation on gorillas (the remainings could have been scavenged and there were no fatalities in the leopard attack). However, they clearly state that the other reported cases (Jonhson 1931, Schaller 1963) are recognized as factual evidence that adult male gorillas have been killed by leopards. They conclude by saying "it appears that gorillas are vulnerable to leopard predation in all their range".


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This extraxt discusses how leopards in the forest may prey on much larger animals than in the savana: larger antelopes and even young bovines. Thus, a 200 kg gorilla is not outside the range of weight for a leopard to attempt preying. Possibly a gorilla is a much risky take than a young buffalo, thus explaining that no gorilla was found killed by a leopard, while kills of large antelopes and a young buffalo were reported. However, the authors favor the possibility that gorillas may be occasionaly taken.

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Here the authors conclude that predation by large felines on hominds has been an important factor in human evolution.

[quote author=gatogordo board=zoological thread=1191 post=17302 time=1182177124]


I posted this review of an article about 2 years ago in AVA. I'm reposting it now here in Carnivora.

Years ago I wrote to a primate research organization that I found
in the web requesting a published reference on leopard predation on
large apes, gorillas or chimps. Three weeks ago, I received from them a
couple of references, one of which the librarian at my work place was
able to get for me. The article is:

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whose abstract (summary) reads


During a 5-year period, 29interactions between chimpanzees and
leopards have been observed or inferred in the tropical rainforest of
the Taï National Park, Cote de Ivoire. Chimpanzees chased away leopards
in 9 cases, rescued alarm calling chimpanzees in 11 cases (in 4 of these
footprints or growls of leopards were noted), 9 times leopards attacked
chimpanzees, injuring 6 of them and killing 4. Two of the latter were
most certainly eaten by the leopard later. Predation by leopards is
estimated to be the first cause of mortality in the Taï chimpanzees and
individual chimpanzees may experience a risk of predatory attack of 0.30
per year and mortality risk of 0.055 per year. Taï chimpamzees adapt
specifically their grouping patterns to food availability and to
predation: with abundant food and low predation, party size increases
and mixed parties are more frequent, whereas with the same food
condition but higher predation, party size decreases and all-male party
types increases. Comparisons with data on grouping patterns from Gombe
and Mahale chimpanzees living in more open habitats support the
hypothesis that this species adapts itself to leopard predation which is
known to be lower in savanna habitats. The grouping patterns of the
bonobo in Lomako forest seem more similar to Taï than to Gombe or Mahale
chimpanzees, suggesting an analogous adaptation to high predation
pressure[/i ]

The paper explains why leopard predation in previous studies of
chimpanzees reported leopard predation as rare:

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The article reports two cases of chimpanzees (one involving two adult
males and one a whole group) chasing away leopards. In one of the cases
(the group), the leopard was forced to hide in an enclosure and was
attacked by chimps wielding clubs as weapons. The leopard escaped. No
leopard was reported killed by chimps.

The article also describes 3 examples of leopard attack. Seven chimps
(including two adult males) were wounded and one of these males
(Falstaff) died from these wounds. Three cases are described of a
juvenile and two adult females killed. The observations show that
leopard predation is the principal cause of mortality for all sex/age
categories (39% of total dead in a 5 year period) and that all sex and
age classes are killed by leopards. The author argues that the high
mortality rate from predation in this chimpanzee community shows that
the defense of the chimps might not be very efficient, he even suspects
that perhaps it is due (in this case) to a leopard that has become
specialized as a "chimp-killer".

The article also discusses, using available data, how the grouping
patterns of Taï chimpanzees reflect the impact of this predation. These
patterns differ from those of other habitats, which are subjected to
much less predation pressure (leopard density is much lower). In the
case of bonobos, their more arboreal habits shield them from leopard

I will discuss the paper in more detail, posting various interesting

I can email the full text of the paper (23 jpg files, one per page). If
anybody is interested, just send a message to my ezInbox providing an
email address.

Before looking at excerpts from the paper, notice the following
illustrative comments made by the author on the effects of leopard’s

However, Fallstaff's (an adult male wounded by a leopard) death
proves that leopard attacks can be fatal, even for a full grown male
chimpanzee (page 225).

The tremendous power of the leopard's bite makes him a rapid killer and
if, taken by surprise, even the adult individual seems unable to prevent
it from the fatal biting. Thus all age-sex classes may suffer from
predation by leopards (page 228)



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This predation affects chimpanzees of BOTH SEXES & ALL AGES.
This is known from looking at the vital statistics and migration
patterns of the whole community over 5 years of observation.

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Even if only 9-18 percent of leopard’s attacks end in a death fatality,
this is a very successful predation that calls into question the ability
of the chimps in defending themselves.

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The autor suspects that such succesfull predation might be the work of a
leopard that specializes in chimps (a “chimp killer)

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The results are based on “confident” observations. Attacks also occur
during day light. Notice that the presence of human observers might
deter leopards. This factor must be taken into consideration when
estimating the predation rates.

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Example 1: leopard attacks adult female:

This was a non-fatal attack. The female (Ella) seems to have saved her 5
year old son by confronting the leopard (before the group came to aid
her). Another attacked female (Hera) was not so lucky and lost her 2
yeard old son.

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Example 2: leopard kills adult female: The casualty was Salome.
The leopard killed her by a chest bite and escaped as the group
approached. Later came back to feed on the body. Notice the comment at
the end of the excerpt.

The jpg file wasn’t clear enough, so I typed this excerpt (page 228)

Some comments on the attacks: Attacks are frequent (9 in a
community of 60), even those not fatal lead occasionally to a death
casualty (as with Falstaff). Notice comment at the end.

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How the rates of leopard predation are estimated? Notice correction for
human disturbance and also the facy of day-light observation.

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Some results:

Individual attacked on average once every 3 years and 4 months, one
killed every 18 years.

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Chimpanzees chase away every leopard they see. The article describes two
such incidents. In one case two adult males pursue a elpard but it is
not evident if they just wanted to drive it away or to harm it. In the
second case, involving a whole group, the chimps clearly wanted to harm
the cat, which hid in an enclosure. There is no record of any leopard
being hurt or killed. What makes this incident particularly interesting
is the fact that the chimps used clubs when they attacked. The author
claims that no record of chimps doing so (with leopards) exist in other
chimp societies.

Example 1: A leopard is discovered by two adult males

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Example 2: A leopard is discovered by a large group of

Here also the jpg file didn’t look clear, so I typed it (page 223-224)

Example 2. Aleopard discovered by a large group of chimpanzees

On 6th of March 1989, our field assistant, Gregoire Nohon, was observing
a party of 2 adult females and an adult male, Rousseau, resting 20 m
nearby a large windthrown tree. At 12:10 hrs, he heard loud calls from
another party of chimpanzees behind that tree. Then he saw Rousseau
rushing towards the fallen tree while an adult female leopard was
running out from under the tree, avoiding Rousseau who made a shortcut
to catch up with it. Four adult males appeared now by jumping over the
tree and followed the leopard behind Rousseau. The two females that were
still close to Nohon now joined in the pursuit and the leopard was seen
running away with 7 chimpanzees behind it. Rousseau being as close as 3
meters. Forty meters further on, tremendous screams from chimpanzees and
roaring from the leopard were heard. Nohon rushed back to camp and
informed me. I arrived at the site at 13:45 hrs and saw the chimpanzees
around another large fallen tree around which the leopard was trapped in
a deep and narrow hole. The leopard roared without interruption for the
rest of the observation, barking loudly whenever it tried to strike the
chimpanzees with its paw. For the next 42 minutes, they settled around
the entrance , some grooming, others just sitting or even laying on the
ground near the the the hole entrance. Now and then, females with
youngsters neared the entrance and took advantage of the rare
opportunity to have a close and safe look at a leopard. Some regularly
threatened the animal. Seven times different chimpanzees were seen to
take a piece of fallen branch and use it as a club, repeatedly trying to
hit or stab the leopard in its hole (average of 4.44 striles per
instance). Each time the leopard barkes in response and jumped forward
out of its shelter to hit the hand of the chimpanzees hulding the club,
seemingly unsuccessfully. But before it could try to escape from the
hole, the noisy reaction of the group, with a minimum of 3 adults
rushing towards it, forced it back to its refuge. The small entrance
hole (about 70 cm at its highest point and narrowing down toeards the
leopard) prevented the chimpanzees from taking any effective action and
at 14:32 hrs, i.e. 2 hours 22 minutes after the first sighting, they
left the site, the leopard silently leaving the hole 11 minutes later.


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The results of this paper are not well known, since most people assume
that leopard predation of chimps is a rare phenomenon. As this paper
explains this is due to the fact that leopard density in other chimp
societies is much lower than in the Taï forest (0.007 vs 1.0 leopards
per square km). Bonobos, on the other hand, are more arboreal, so their
risk of encounters with leopards is much less. Chimps driving away
leopards and killing leopard kittens are known facts, but neither in the
Taï forest nor in other habitats, there is NOT EVEN A SINGLE RECORD
of chimps killing an adult leopard

From this article’s work, we can take evidence of leopard predation
as a solid fact
. This predation affects grouping patterns and vital
population statistics. When recounting causes of death or disappearance
it is evident that leopards must account for all cases not due to
migration, since they are the only large predators in the forest, are
high density and their attacks have been recorded.

While only one adult female (Salome) was actually observed directly
killed by a leopard, there are adult males among those not accounted for
(including one who died from wounds, Falstaff). If we believe Josh’s
account that adult male chimps are (up to) 6 times stronger than men,
the apparent ease with which leopards ambush and kill chimps would
imply that these cats would just as easy ambush and kill a strong
(food for thought for those who keep peddling the famous “73
year old grampa who killed a leopard barehanded”)

Also, the paper demolishes arguments raised against leopard predation on
gorillas, based on comparison with chimps, such as:

How came you say that leopards predate on gorillas if -Leopards already
have a hard time predating chimps -Leopards are driven away by chimps

Perhaps predation on gorillas is much harder for leopards, perhaps the
success rate is less, perhaps the rate of killed gorillas in the
leopard’s attacks is much smaller than the 9-18% for chimps, but the
argument that chimps don’t suffer this predation cannot be used.

Notice that the article reports of many non-fatal attacks (Hera)
resulting in wounds, most of which heal but some resulting in death
casualties afterwards (the case of Falstaff). In the fatal attack
against Salome the leopard had to flee as the group was coming. These
accounts paint an overall picture that could explain, more or less, what
happens in the leopard-gorilla interaction. I know that what goes on
with chimps doesn’t generalize automatically to gorillas, but some clues
might emerge, since we may have the same process with lesser intensity
(lesser killing ratios) for the larger apes. The picture is as follows:
as with chimps, perhaps in most cases the leopard ambushes and just
manages to inflict non-fatal wounds which occasionally result in a dead
gorilla. As with the chimps, the leopards always manage to flee and
there is no record of hurt or dead leopards. The cats are just too fast,
too stealthy and too agile for the apes to catch. However, as with
chimps, it is not impossible that in some cases the leopard does succeed
to ambush-kill even a male silverback.

Another interesting comparison comes with baboons: they also suffer
heavy leopard predation, but (as opposed to chimps) there are cases on
record of baboon male coalitions killing leopards.
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Leopard and Hyena

Date: Monday, October 08, 2007

Producer: Ronnie Watt
E-mail: veldfocus@iafrica.com

It was at Londolozi where John Hillidge of Dainfern watched a leopard feeding on its kill in the branches of a tree. A hyena was anxiously pacing below, waiting for scraps to fall to the ground. The leopard then finished feeding, andjumps to the ground and finds a comfortable spot in the middle of a dry river bed. The young hyena loiters about, but then boldly comes right up to the leopard! With its belly full the leopard relaxes and nods off. It appeared oblivious to the hyena but then rears its head and snarls at the intruder, warning it off.
Such a peaceful scene between two otherwise bitter enemies is out of the ordinary! If more hyenas were present it could have been quite a different scenario as there is no love lost between these two rival species.

Previously we showed a hyena pirating prey from a leopard. Though the leopard tried to stand its ground, the hyena boldly rushed in to grab the prey. Twice the leopard tried to fend off the thief but in the end the hyena triumphed and carried off the remains of the carcass.

But hyenas do not always walk away unscathed from interactions with leopards. There is one record of a leopard which not only knew the trick of keeping a hyena at bay, but also killed it and it did so not only once, but three times!

But here there’s no call for aggression from either side here. The leopard has nothing, except for its peace and quiet, to defend. The hyena won’t attack because there is nothing to scavenge. For now the two adversaries will tolerate one another - next time ‘round, it might be an altogether different case.


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Dear friends,

Please find below a list of prey items that I prepared according to regions...

In Saudi Arabia, Nubian Ibex (Capra nubiana), Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis), Hares (Lepus capensis), and in the southern part the Baboon (Papio hamadryas) (Kingdon, 1990). Due to continuous hunting of ibex and gazelles (Mountain Gazelle) by human beings, leopards have become dependent on hyrax in numerous places. Results of the present survey indicated that in more than 90% of leopard sites, hyrax are living close to leopard dens.

The major conflict between man and the leopard in Arabia originated from attacks and predation on domestic herds of sheep, goats and camels. Sometimes a leopard kills 10–15 sheep or goats and eats only one or two.

In Yemen, Nubian Ibex (Capra nubiana), Mountain Gazelle (Gazella Gazella), Dorcas Gazelle (av. 16 kg. and maybe Goitered Gazelle, they prefer less mountainous areas), Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis), Hares (Lepus capensis), Indian Porcupine, Foxes, Wild Cats, Rodents (Jerboa, Gerbil, Jirid) and the Baboon (Papio hamadryas).

In UAE, prey items are: Arabian Tahr (Hemitragus jayakari) which is tought to be extinct, Arabian Mountain Gazelle (Gazella gazella cora), Red Fox, Wild Cat, Sand Cat, Cape Hare, Sand Fox, Blandford’s Fox, Rodents (Lesser Jerboa, Cheesman’s Gerbil, Baluchistan Gerbil, Libyan jird (Meriones libycus) and Sundevall's jird (Meriones crassus)), birds and carrion. Other possible preys, Arabian Oryx and Goittered Gazelle (Arabian Sand Gazelle) do not prefer the mountainous habitat of the arabian leopard and live in open area.

In Oman (Jebel Samhan Nature Reserve, Southern Oman), leopard’s prey items are Nubian Ibex, Mountain Gazelle, Rock Hyrax, Indian-crested Porcupine, Red Fox, Blanfords Fox, Ruppels Sand Fox, Wildcat, Sandcat, Genet, Whitetailed Mongoose as well as numerous rodents (jerboa, gerbils and jirids). Ibex and hyrax were reported, along with the Arabian red-legged partridge, to be the principal prey of leopards in Oman (Daly 1990). Striped Hyenas, Caracal, and Wolves are competitors of leopards. Other possible preys, Arabian Oryx and Goittered Gazelle (Arabian Sand Gazelle) do not prefer the mountainous habitat of the arabian leopard and live in open area.

Israel Judean Desert, a pristine mountainous region bordering the Dead Sea, where 6-9 individuals have been radio-collared and monitored since 1979 (Ilani 1990). These leopards prey mainly on rock hyrax, followed by ibex and porcupine. Ilani (1981) observed a female leopard hunt hyrax by leaping blindly over large boulders, surprising a group of hyrax on her fourth attempt and killing a young male.

In Khosrov Reserve (Armenia), the leopards feed principally on the Ibex bezoar goat Capra aegagrus which provides plentiful prey resource for these carnivores. feeds also on the wild boar Sus scrofa and roe deer Capreolus capreolus. The Indian crested porcupine Hystrix indica and European hare Lepus europaeus are taken opportunistically.

Vashlovani Natural Park (Southeastern Georgia close to armenian borders, semi desert steppes and arid forests): A persian leopard has been observed in 2004. Possible prey items and competitors: wild boar, goitered gazelle, hare, porcupine, fox, golden jackal, eurasian badger, wild cat, marten, phesant, eurasian hedgehog, wolf, brown bear, striped hyena

Bamu National Park (Fars Region, Shiraz, Southwestern Iran): The main prey species for leopards in this area are wild sheep Ovis spp., wild goat Capra aegagrus, goitered gazelle Gazella subgutturosa and wild boar Sus scrofa. Smaller prey, such as the Indian crested porcupine Hystrix indica and Cape hare Lepus capensis, are also taken. The Persian leopard is the largest carnivore in Bamu NP, co-existing with the wolf Canis lupus, striped hyena Hyaena hyaena, wild cat Felis sylvestris

Golestan National Park (Khorasan, Northeastern Iran): Possible prey items and competitors are: Wild Ass, Wild Boar, Red Deer (forest and transition zone), Roe Deer, Urial (montane steppe), Alborz Red Sheep (montane steppe, Hybrid of Mouflon and Urial), Wild Goat (Capra Aegagrus, more rugged areas), Goitered Gazelle (plains), Indian porcupine, Rabbit, Red Fox, Stone Marten, Jungle Cat, Wild Cat, Golden Jackal, Grey Wolf, Striped Hyena, Brown Bear, Cheetah. Ex Caspian Tiger reserve.

Kirthar National Park (Sind, Southeastern Pakistan): Boar, Ibex, Urial, Chinkara Gazelle, Black Buck ( Reintroduced ), Porcupine, Indian Pangolin, Hedgehog, Indian Grey Mongoose, Cairo Spiny mouse and the Rock Mouse. Honey Badger, Stripped Hyena, Desert Wolf, Indian Fox, Caracal , Jungle cat, Jackal.

Margalla Hills National Park, Pakistan: Wild boar, Gray Goral, Munchak, Chinkara gazelle, Rhesus Macaque, Pangolin, Porcupine, Yellow throated marten, Jackal, Red fox, Leopard cat, Fruit bats

Hingol National Park (Balochistan, Southwestern costs of Pakistan): Wild Boar, Sindh Ibex, Afghan Urial, Chinkara Gazelle, Indian Porcupine, Indian Pangolin, Cape Hare and Desert Hare, Hedgehog (probably more than one species), Indian Grey Mongoose, Five Striped Palm Squirrel, Cairo Spiny Mouse, Grey Spiny Mouse, Persian Jird, Indian Desert Jird and Libyian Jird, House Mouse, Roof Rat, and Mouse like Hamster. Wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) and Striped Hyena (Hyaena hyaena) are on the brink of extinction. Caracal, Jungle Cat, Ratel, Indian Desert Cat, Indian Fox, Bengal Fox and Sand Fox, Golden Jackal.

Gir National Park (Western India): Fauna: Lion, leopard, Stripped Hyena, Ratel, Jubgle Cat, Jackal, Indian fox, Wild Cat, Rusty Spotted Cat, Wild Boar (rare), Sambar, Nilgai (rare), Chital, Four Horned Antelope (rare), Chinkara (rare), Common Langur, Indian Pangolin, Indian Porcupine, Indian Hare, Indian Gerbille, Five Stripped Squirrel, Three Stripped Squirrel, Indian Field Mouse,Common Palm Civet, Small Indian Civet, Common Mangoose, Ruddy Mangoose, Small Indian Mangoose, Pale Hadegehog, Long Eared Hedgehog, Musk Shrew, Indian Flying Fox, Fulvous Fruit Bat.

Diet in Summer 2005: Sambar (% 28.3), Chital (% 23), Wild Boar (% 1.77), Four Horned Antelope (% 0.88), Hanuman Langur (% 13.27), Civet (% 11.5), Brown Hare (% 8), Rodents (% 7), Livestock (% 4.42: goat % 2.65, buffalo % 1.77, dog % 0.88), Peafowl (% 0.88) (Aishwarya Maheshwari, 2006, Food habits and prey abundance of leopard in Gir Wildlife Sanctuary National Park). In an older study chital was the principal prey, with sambar, langur, civet. Livestock prey included buffalo, cow, goat and dog.

Qomolangma Nature Preserve (Tibetan part of Mt. Everest):

Possible preys: Wild boar, wild ass, argali (on the verge of extirpation), thar, bharal, goral, serow, tibetan gazelle, munchak, musk deer, indian porcupine, marmot, pikas, langur, assam macaque, rhesus

Khangchendzonga National Park (North Sikkim): Possible preys: wild boar?, Takin, Tibetan Wild Ass, Tibetan Argali (Ovis ammon hodgsomi), Himalayan Tahr, Goral, Bharal, Serow, Muntchak, Musk Deer, , Civet, Himalayan Black Bear, Red Panda, Jungle Cat, Leopard Cat, competitors: Wild Dog, Tibetan Wolf, Sloth Bear

Kishtwar National Park (Jammu Kashmir, India)
Possible preys: Wild boar, 3 species of deer: Hangul (Kashmiri Elk) Indian Muntchak, Musk Deer, 5 species of goat/goat antelope: Siberian Ibex, Himalayan Tahr, Bharal, Serow, and possibly Markhor

Govind Pashu Vihar, India: Possible preys: wild boar, thar, goral, bharal, serow, sambar, munchak, musk deer, indian porcupine, hanuman langur (16 – 21 kg.), indian pika, common otter, red panda, jackal etc.

Namdapha Wildlife Sanctuary: Possible preys: Gaur, Water Buffalo, Wild Boar, 5 species of goat antelope: Mishmi Takin, Himalayan Thar, Goral, Bharal, Serow. 4 species of Deer, Sambar, Hog Deer, Indian Muntchak, Musk Deer, slow loris, binturong , Hodgson’s short tailed porcupine, Black Giant Squirrel, Spotted Giant Flying Squirrel, Parti colored Flying Squirrel. Primate species: Assamese Macaque, pig-tailed Macaque, stump-tailed Macaque, Capped Langur (capped leaf monkey), Hoolock Gibbons. Carnivores: Black Bear, Dhole, Hog Badger, Golden Jackal, Eurasian Otter, Oriental Clawed Otter, Red Fox, Red Panda, Large Indian Civet, Common Palm Civet, Small Indian Civet spotted linsang, Crab Eating Mangoose, Yellow throated marten

Royal Bardia National Park (Nepal) Possible preys: six deer species found in the park are: Sambhar, Swamp Deer (Barasingha), Chital, Hog Deer, Barking Deer and Musk deer

Gaur, Wild Boar and 5 antelope/goat species: Blue Bull or Nilgai, Black Buck, Himalayan Tahr, Goral, Serow, Small mammals include: Langur Monkey, Rhesus Macaque (5 – 11 kg.), Jackal, three species of cats (jungle, leopard, and fishing); yellow-throated Marten; Mongoose; and Indian Otter.

Kanha Natýonal Park (madya pradesh): gaur, wild boar, 4 species of deer: sambhar, chital, barasingha (swamp deer), barking deer (muntchak) 4 species of antelope: nilgai, black buck, chousingha (four horned antelope), chinkara, (to be found ouside the park's northern boundary) indian spotted chevrotain, indian pangolin, indian porcupine, indian hare, indian palm squirrel, hanuman langur (16 – 21 kg.), rhesus macaque (5 – 11 kg.), sloth bear, wolf, dhole, ratel, golden jackal, bengal fox, stripped hyena, jungle cat, smooth coated otter, indian gray mongoose, ruddy mangoose, small indian civet

Scat analysis of Indian Leopard in Nagarhole National Park: 480 scats: Chital (% 43.7), Sambar (% 13.5), Muntchak (% 7.5), Gaur (% 7.3), Chevrotain ( tragulus meminna, % 7.1), Primates (% 7.1), Wild Boar (% 4.5), Four Horned Antelope (% 0.4), Dhole (% 2.6), Hare (% 1.1), Porcupines (Hystrix and Atherurus) (% 1.1), unidentified mammals (% 4.5). Largest prey killed is 93 kg.

Yala (Ruhuna) National Park (Sri Lanka): Wild Buffalo, Sambar, Wild Boar, Spotted Deer, Indian Muntchak, Mouse Deer, Indian Porcupine, Black-Naped Hare, Indian Pangolin, Gray Langur, Toque Macaque, Jackal, Stripe-Necked Mongoose, Ruddy Mongoose, Water Monitor

Kaeng Krachan National Park (Northern Malayan Peninsula, Thailand): Possible preys: gaur, malayan tapir, wild boar, sambar, banteng, serow, common muntjac, Fea’s muntjac, lesser mouse deer, Malayan pangolin, Malayan porcupine, Slow Loris; Pig-tailed, Stub-tailed and Long-tailed macaque, white-handed gibbon, dusky and banded langurs, hog badger, giant flying squirrel, variety of civets and many species of squirrels, Yellow-throated Marten, Asiatic bear, Sun bear, Asian wild dog, otter. Siamese crocodile.

Indochinese leopard diet in Kaeng Krachan National Park: hog badger (10,5 kg., %41), common muntchak (24 kg. %20), wild boar (140 kg. %7), Dusky Leaf Monkeys (7,5 kg. %5) sambar (230, %3), indian civet (%3), bengal cat (%3), large bamboo rat (%3), brush-tailed porcupine (1 kg. %1), others.

Baluran National Park in Java (Far East Java): Possible prey items: asian water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), banteng (Bos Javanicus), wild pig (Sus sp), javan pig (sus verrucossus), timor deer (Cervus timorensis), common muntchak (Muntiacus muntjak), malay mouse deer, common porcupine, pangolin, agile gibbon, silvered leaf monkey (Presbytis cristata), crab eating macaque (Macaca fascicularis), ebony leaf monkey (Trachypithecus auratus), squirrels, common palm civet, fishing cat, green peafowl (Pavomuticus), green jungle fowl, red jungle fowl, javanese peacock, monitor lizards,

In Meru-Betiri reserve (Java), where most of the ungulates have been eliminated, the predominant prey of leopards is primates. Remains of leaf monkeys and macaques were found in % 65 of scats, followed distantly by chevrotain (% 5.9) and other small mamals (Seidensticker, J. and Suyono J.).

Wolong Reserve (Sichuan, China): 334 scats: tufted deer (% 41), musk deer (% 5.6), sambar (% 0.4), serow (% 2.4), takin (% 1.1), goral (% 0.2), wild boar (% 0.7), red and giant pandas (% 0.6), rodents (% 17.3), pika (% 1.1), hog badger (% 0.9), primates (% 0.7), porcupines (% 0.7), unidentified mamals (% 0.4), birds (% 2.5)

Amur Leopard Diet: Red deer, Roe deer, Sika deer, Musk deer, small wild boars, goral, hares, badger, raccoon dogs and smaller rodents.

The Souss Massa Biological Reserve (Maroc): Possible prey items: Wild boar, Addax (reintroduced), Scmittar Horned Oryx (reintroduced), Dorcas Gazelle, Dama Gazelle (reintroduced), Porcupine, Brown Hare, Barbary Ground-squirrell, Red Fox, Golden Jackal, Egyptian Mongoose, Genet, Weasels, Algerian Hedgehog, African Wild Cat, Birds.

Eastern High Atlas (Haut Atlas Oriental) National Park (Maroc): Possible prey items: Wild Boar, Barbary Sheep (Ammotragus Lervia, 2 000 – 4 000 m. Their main predators in North Africa are leopards and caracals.), Cuiveri Gazelle, Barbary Macaque, Porcupine (Hystrix Cristata), Cape Hare, Red Fox, Golden Jackal, Genet, Mangoos, Eurasian Otter, Wild Cat, Caracal, Stripped Hyena

Ahaggar National Park (extreme south of Algeria, close to Nijer border, mountanious semi desert/arid areas with acacia, calatropis, olive, palms ): Possible prey items and competitors: Barbary Sheep, Dorcas Gazelle, Cape Hare, Rock Hyrax, Rodents (jerboa, gerbils, jirids), Golden Jackal, Fennec, Rüppell’s Fox, Egyptian Mangoose, Genet, Wild Cat, Cheetah. Addax, scimitar horned oryx and dama gazelles were extirpated.

Bale Mountains National Park (Ethiopia): Possible prey items and competitors: Mountain Nyala, Bushbuck, Bohor Reedbuck, Klipspringer (rocky area), Warthog (plains), Bushpig (rarely seen in forests), Stark’s Hare, Rock Hyrax, Olive Baboon, Black and White Colobus Monkey, Velvet Monkey, Giant Mole Rat, White Tailed Mangoose, Civet, Stripped Zorilla, Golden Jackal

Semien Mountains National Park (Ethiopia): park is home for 20 mammals as potential prey and competitors for Leopard: Walia (Abyssinian) Ibex (80 – 125 kg.), Bushbuck (rare), Klipspringer, Grey Duiker, Bushpig (rare), Rock Hyrax, Gelada Baboon, Hamadryas Baboon, Anubis Baboon, Black and White Vervet, Colobus Monkey, Golden Jackal, Ethiopian Wolf, Caracal, Serval, Wild Cat, Spotted Hyena.

Tai National Park (Ivory Coast): 215 scats: Bongo (% 1.1), Bushpig (% 0.8), Giant Forest Hog (% 0.4), Duiker Species (7 species Cephalophus and Philantomba, % 31.1), Dwarf Antelope Species (Neotragus, % 1.9), Water Chevrotain (% 1.5), Primates (seven species of primates including Perodicticus, Cercopithecus, Colobus and Pan, % 19.6), Rodents (% 10), Porcupines (% 6.1), Pangolin (% 3.8), Viverrids (% 3.2), Hyrax (% 1.1), Unknown Mammals (% 9.9), Birds (% 0.8)

Réserve de Faune Lopé (Gabon): A minimum of 30 different prey species were identified, 27 of which were mammalian. Leopards preyed mainly on ungulates, which made up 59% of the biomass consumed. Diurnal primates (18%) and large rodents (17%) were also heavily preyed upon. The mean prey weight estimated from scats was 29.2 kg. The most important single prey species was found to be red river hog Potamochoerus porcus (Linnaeus), making up 20% of the biomass consumed, followed by forest buffalo Syncerus caffer nanus (Boddaert) and cane rat Thryonomys swinderianus (Temminck), each comprising 13% of biomass consumed. Bushbuck % 8.6, putty nosed guenon % 8.1 and forest buffalo with % 7.1 frequency of occurence.

63 mammal species including leopard, the largest carnivore: Forest elephant, 13 ungulate species: forest buffalo, red river hog (bush pig), sitatunga, bushbuck, (one missing ungulate can be hippopotamus, giant forest hog, bongo, waterbuck, southern reedbuck?), 6 duiker species (yellow-backed duiker, white bellied duiker, ogilby’s duiker), water chevrotain, dwarf antelope, 9 diurnal primates and 6 nocturnal primates: Western Lowland Gorilla, Common Chimpanzee (40 – 65 kg.), Mandrill, Sun-Tailed Guenon, Black Colobus , Collared Mangabey Grey Cheeked Mangabey Mantled Guereza ( colobus sp.), Crowned Guenon De Brazza’s Monkey (guenon) Moustached guenon Nocturnal primates: Potto, Galagos (Allen’s Bushbaby, Thomas’s Bushbaby, Demidoff’s Dwarf Galago) Western Needle Clawed Galago, Golden Angwantibo, a dozen of carnivore species: african golden cat

Giant pangolin, Long Tailed Pangolin, Tree Pangolin, Brush tailed porcupine, cane rat, hyraxes, civets, mangooses

Ituri Forest (Democratic Republic of Kongo): 222 scats: Okapi (% 2.4), Bushpig (% 10), Duiker Species (Cephalophus and Philantomba, % 36.3), Dwarf Antelope Species (Neotragus, % 2.1), Water Chevrotain (% 2.4), Primates (remains of eleven of thirteen primate species were found including: Potto Perodicticus (1.5 kg), Guenon or Owl Faced Monkeys Cercopithecus, Colobus and Chimpanzee Pan, % 25.7), Rodents (% 7.9), Porcupines (% 3.1), Pangolin (% 2.3), Viverrids (% 3.1), Hyrax (% 0.7), Unknown Mammals (% 3), Birds (% 0.7), Reptiles (% 0.7)

52 mammal species including elephant, buffalo, giant forest hog (180 – 275 kg.), bush pig, bongo, okapi, sitatunga, six species of duiker (including blue duiker Cephalophus monticola, black-fronted duiker C. nigrifrons, white-bellied duiker C.leucogaster, Peter's duiker C. callipygus, Bay duiker C. dorsalis, and yellow-backed duiker C. sylvicultor.), water chevrotain, and 3 dwarf antelope species (Neotragus batesii, Thryonomys swinderianus, Syncerus caffer,). Thirteen primate species have been observed, the largest number known for an African forest: Chimpanzee, Anubis Baboon, Colobus [Red, Guereza (Eastern black and white), Angolan], Guenons [Blue, Mona, Owl-faced, L'Hoest's, De Brazza's, Black-cheeked White-nosed] and Mangabeys [Grey-cheeked, Black], giant ground pangolin, brush- tailed porcupines, giant forest genet, black-legged mongoose, black mongoose, and marsh mongoose, Zaire clawless otter, African golden cat (Sidle and Lawson, 1986).

Serengeti National Park: 2 different study. First done in 1967, the other is in 1972. In the older one the number of scats is 55 while in the later the number is 164.

Occurence of prey items in these studies, first figure is older the second is later study. Thomson’s Gazelle (% 27.3 ,% 63.4), Impala (% 16.3, % 0), Reedbuck species (% 10.9, % 11.6), Wildbeest (% 9, % 6.7), Grant’s Gazelle (% 3.6, % 6.1), Zebra species (% 7.2, % 1.2), Topi (% 1.8, % 1.8), Bushbuck (% 1.8, % 0), Hartebeest (% 0, % 1.2), Warthog (% 0, % 0.6), Baboon species (% 3.6, % 0.6), Rock Hyrax (% 1.8, % 0), Springhare (% 1.8, % 0), small carnivores (% 0, % 3.6), Birds (% 9, % 2.4).

In Serengeti National Park sample of 137 leopard kills included 31 different prey species, compared with 22 species in a sample of 1180 lion kills.

Kruger National Park: 5 501 scats: Impala (% 77.7), Waterbuck (% 3.9), Bushbuck (% 3.9), Kudu species (% 2.9), Reedbuck species (% 2.4), Warthog (% 1.4), Wildbeest (% 1.3), Zebra species (% 1.2), Nyala (% 0.4), Eland (% 0.2), Tsesebe (% 0.2), Sable (% 0.1), Buffalo (% 0.1).

Kalahari National Park: 80 scats: Springbok (% 65), Steenbook (% 6.3), Hartebeest (% 6.3), Gemsbok (% 2.5), Duiker (% 2.5), Wildbeest (% 1.2), Aardvark (% 1.2), Aardwolf (% 1.2), Cheetah (% 1.2), Small Carnivores (% 7.4), Rodents (% 2.4), Birds (% 2.5)

Namibia: 131 scats:Duiker (% 32.8), Steenbok (% 13), Eland (% 3.1), Gemsbok (% 0.8), Aardwolf (% 3.1), Porcupine (% 2.3), Cape Hare (% 2.3), Carnivores (% 2.3), Cheetah (% 1.5), Small Birds (% 5.3), Snakes (% 0.8)
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This information is taken from the journal Africa - Environment & Wildlife, March/April 1999. I came across it the other day as I was browsing through some of my old magazines. I thought it might be of some interest.

The article is entitled The Quintessential Cat by Luke Hunter.

The leopard's remarkably diverse diet is one reason for its exceptional success. Whereas lion prides require high densities of large herbivores to subsist, and cheetahs are most successful where antelopes such as gazelles and impalas are abundant, the leopard can survive on fish, rodents and birds. Ted Bailey, a scientist who studied leopards in the Kruger National Park, tallied prey records from around the continent and discovered that at least 92 different species have been documented in the leopard's diet, among them dung beetles, grasshoppers and even scorpions. However, leopards generally invest the most energy in hunting prey where the pay-off is greatest, and in the majority of African ecosystems they concentrate on the most abundant medium-sized ungulates present. In the southern Kruger Park where impala density is among the highest in Africa, Bailey's study showed that impalas constituted almost 88 per cent of leopard kills. In Tanzania's Serengeti National Park, the plentiful Thomson's gazelle is the most frequently killed prey, whereas in Kafue National Park in Zambia it is reedbuck, waterbuck and puku.

Where such species are absent or occur in low numbers, the leopard is able to switch to other, less 'profitable' prey. In the Kalahari Desert, most kills weigh less than 20 kilograms, and porcupines, steenbok and small carnivores feature prominently in the leopard's diet. In Israel's Judean desert, Zimbabwe's Matobo Hills and the Cedarberg range in the south-western Cape, rock hyraxes (dassies) are the most common prey item, whereas West African rainforest leopards have a diet dominated by duikers and small primates such as colobus and mangabey monkeys.

Even our closest relatives are not invulnerable. In the Tai' Forest of the Cote d'lvoire, leopard predation is the main cause of chimpanzee mortality. Indeed, the leopard is one of the few carnivores able to overcome the extraordinary intelligence, vigilance and strength of adult chimps. During a 12-year study, chimp researchers documented at least 17 of their study animals lost to attacks by leopards. A further six severe maulings were observed: one of the chimps injured was a prime adult male - a formidable opponent for any predator. Despite these interactions, primates do not feature as prey as often as people suspect. One of the great myths about leopards is that baboons are an especially favoured prey item. Yet in the western Cape mountains where baboons are one of the most abundant of the larger mammals, only two per cent of leopard scats in one study contained baboon hairs. While baboons are definitely taken wherever the two species co-occur, there are numerous records of leopards being severely injured or even killed by baboon troops. Leopards treat baboons with due caution; they often avoid them during the day and concentrate on attacking stragglers or juveniles, sometimes even taking them from their night-time roosts in trees and rock outcrops.

Other carnivores are also fair game to leopards. While lions may invest a great deal of energy in killing fellow predators, their motivation seems more to eliminate competition than to acquire food, and they frequently leave such kills untouched. Leopards, however, have been recorded killing and eating everything from dwarf mongooses to adult spotted hyaenas. One well-observed Ngorongoro Crater leopard killed and ate 11 jackals in less than a month, which suggests that small canids may be preferred prey when abundant, and there is considerable truth in the belief that leopards are partial to dogs. Such unusual preferences may vary from region to region. In arid north-eastern Namibia, researcher Flip Stander discovered adult cheetahs were sometimes killed as prey by leopards, a remarkable occurrence also recently observed by tourists in the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa. Yet in the comparitively lush bushveld of northern KwaZulu-Natal, I saw three cases of leopards killing cheetahs and leaving the carcasses untouched. Perhaps where the density of more 'typical' prey species is low - such as in desert regions - leopards cannot afford to be choosy and are more likely to eat the meat of other predators.
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Brief encounters

"I MAKE AN early start, leaving camp before daybreak. I am in one of the most remote areas I have ever worked – 80 kilometres from the nearest village, deep inside Ivindo National Park. It’s a month since I was dropped off here, alone. My tiny budget didn’t stretch to hiring local field assistants but I do have my satellite phone for emergencies and food provisions for several months.

Today, I set off for the northernmost tip of my 120-square-kilometre study area towards a spot where I’ve seen groups of naive chimpanzees with no fear of humans – a clear sign they have not been hunted for generations.

It’s after walking through the forest for two hours that a movement ahead makes me stop in my tracks. Is it a chimp? After recent rain the mist is still hanging over the abandoned logging road I am following and it is hard to see.

It’s a big animal, roughly chimp-sized. Its slow gait doesn’t fit with the lolloping gait of a chimp though. I wait a few seconds, not moving an inch, as it advances. Squinting, I can make out a massive rounded head, swaying lightly left and right, in rhythm with a powerful, muscular stride.

The mist clears momentarily and, suddenly, I am certain. This is it, the animal I have come to study – a leopard – the apex predator of the African rainforest…

I’ve spent the last month searching for signs of leopards, collecting droppings for dietary analyses and setting up motion-triggered cameras to capture them on film. Now, finally, for the first time I am face-to-face with one!

The leopard is just 50 metres away. It’s a beautiful adult male, possibly the resident male. It keeps on coming. Why? My excitement turns to anxiety as the leopard stops, drops flat on the old road and presses his body to the ground, his massive head lying low between his front paws. Is this hunting behaviour, or has he just spotted me and is trying to conceal himself?

Cat and mouse?
I turn my head to scan the ground for a stick to make me feel less vulnerable. At that moment the animal leaps into the forest to the left side of the road. Now I have a dilemma. Am I the hunted or the hunter? All I know is that there is a very big cat now hiding in the thick vegetation bordering the very road I need to take to reach my destination.

I have been conducting fieldwork in the Gabonese forest for five years and have seen leopards three times, but only from the safety of a car or when working in teams with other researchers. I know I have been close to them on several occasions, sometimes hearing their deep sawing grunts or observing primates and forest duikers go berserk after clearly having spotted their nemesis.

This thought reassures me. If the leopards had wanted to harm me, they could have done so on many occasions. I decide to continue down the road, uneasily scanning the vegetation. I pass the spot where I saw the cat disappear – nothing. I walk for another 50 metres, and then something makes me turn around. There he is, a Panthera pardus, calmly sitting on the road, gazing at me!"

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If they're a profile of this already, I apoligize. I looked everywhere, and haven't seen an Amur Leopard thread.

With a population of less than 40 indivual leopards left in the wild, the Amur Leopard is the most endangered feline in the world. Due to the fact that the Amur Leopard is only a sub speices, currently the Iberian Lynx hold the title as most endangered cat in the world.

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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Panthera
Species: Panthera pardus oreintalis

Weight: Males 32-48 kg. Females 25-43 kg.
Length: ?
Sexual Maturity: 3 years
Mating Season: Spring- early summer
Gestination Period: ?
No. of Young: 1-4
Lifespan: 10-15 years. Up to 20 years in captivity.
Diet: Roe and Sika deers but they will also eat small wild boars,hares, badgers, and raccoon dogs.
Population: Estimated less than 40 leopards in the wild. 300 amur leopards are currently in captivity in diffrent zoo's around the world.

Physical Description:
In the summer, the amur leopard's coat is reddish yellow in colour and the hair's of it's coat is 2.5 cm long. In winter, it's pelt is light in colour and the hairs are 7 cm long. It has longer legs than other leopards, most likely an adaptation for walking through snow. It's rosettes are widely spaced with thick borders. Posted Image

The Amur Leopard is mostly found in temprate forests in Russia. It's previous range extended through Northeastern China to the Korean provinces, but that range has been dramatically reduced since the 70's. Over 13 years, the Amur Leopard lost 80% of it's original range. It's present range is in the Russian province Primorsky Krai, between Vladivostok and the Chinese border. In adjacent China, only 10 scattered indivuals remain.
(See WWF link at the bottom of the page to see a map of the Amur Leopard's historic and present range.)
The Amur Leopard has also been known to adapt to any habitat that provides plenty of food and cover as well.

Unlike other wild cats, it has been reported that some males stay with females after mating, and may even help with raising the young. Several males sometimes follow one female and fight over her.
The amur leopard is nocturnal and solitary, typical of a feline speices. They often hide their kills so they are not stolen by other predators.

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Poaching and Prey Scarcity:
It's not suprising to hear that poachers widely hunt the Amur Leopard for it's pelt; one look at a picture of such a leopard will tell you why. In 1999, an undercover investigation team discovered a female and male amur leopard skin, which was being sold for US$500 and US$1000 in a village next to a reserve. This indicates that they're may be a market for these skins within the localilty.
Villages usually circle the leopard's habitat, so this makes poaching more accessible, not just for the leopards, but for they're prey as well. The amur leopard's main source of prey is also widely poached.

Conflict with Humans:
With the amur leopard's main source of prey less abundant due to heavy poaching, they sometimes turn to nearby farms; Farmers in the Russian Far East raise deer for consumption and to produce antlers for the Asian medicine market. When Amur leopards enter these farms to find food, the farmers are not hesitant to kill them.

Vunerable Population Size and Inbreeding:
Since the Amur Leopard's population is so low, inbreeding is inevitable and may cause genetic problems, like reduced fertility. For example, an episode in Planet Earth featured an Amur Leopard named 'Skrytnaya' and her male cub. It has been revealed that the male cub died at 18 months of age; The sire of Skrytnaya was also the sire of the male cub.
It is also because of they're incredibly tiny population that they are more vunerable to natural disasters such as fire and disease. Chance variation in birth, death, and sex ratios (e.g all cubs born for two years might be male) is also a big threat to the Amur Leopard's small population.

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Fun Facts

The Amur Leopard can leap 6 m horizontally and more than 3 m vertically.

Facts and Information


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"One of the larger territorial male leopards resident on Lion Sands kills a baby elephant.

Although the elephant's mother was able to chase the leopard away, by the time she got to her calf it had already stopped breathing. Lion Sands' Ecologist had viewed the baby earlier in the day, and had recorded that he was concerned about its health. Although it is never nice to see a young animal being killed by a predator, it seems that the calf was already very weak and would possibly not have survived much longer.

We were unable to carry out an autopsy on the calf to determine its cause of death, as the leopard returned once the small breeding herd of elephants had moved off a few hours later. Our philosophy, although sometimes tough in practise, is to not get involved unless the injury or damage has been caused by a human.


Possible Leopard kill on young Elephant

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"The team went out in the morning to look for a young male leopard that has taken over the eastern bank of the Sand River after the death of the Tjellahanga male. Mark was the lucky one, finding the approximately 4 year old leopard sunning himself on the rocks. Watching him for a while, we noticed the leopard’s intense stare towards the rocks. Suddenly an elephant cow appeared, watching the leopard closely. Eventually Markus arrived to the sighting from the other side and spotted a very young elephant calf behind the rocks. The mother was trying to protect it from the leopard. The youngster seemed just a couple of hours old and unfortunately about to die.

And then the unbelievable happened: The leopard approached the elephant calf, trying to kill it (we were wondering if he had injured it in the first place). The mother charged the leopard, in a fleet of emotions she was trying to save the calf’s life. The cat climbed a tree right into the high canopy to get out of the giants path. This wouldn’t stop the angry elephant. Without hesitation the female pushed over this huge Marula tree, causing the leopard to fall down like a ripe apple and run away. This unreal scene went on for a while until the baby elephant eventually died. The mother stuck around for a bit longer and then moved off into the Sand River.

The leopard smelled his chance and dragged the elephant into a nearby thicket. A young elephant can weigh more than 100 kg at birth – almost double the weight of this leopard. The leopard eventually managed to hide the carcass in a thicket and lay down in the shade to rest. The next day our rangers went back into the area to see what was happening - not only to see a leopard feeding on the remains of an elephant carcass but also believing that the leopard might have been responsible for the death of this young calf.

As the rangers approached the sighting, a number of spotted hyenas moved in. They stole most of the carcass and ran away giggling over their success. But they didn’t get all of it. The leopard was lucky, managing to save some of the elephant carcass into a tree. When can somebody ever say again – I have seen a leopard feeding on an elephant in the tree!

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Arabian Leopards' Predations on Camels

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"However, analysis based on the number of camels killed per herd showed that the hyena had a higher average kill of camels per herd (11), followed by leopard (8), lion (6) and elephant (4)."

Out of 60 camels killed by leopards, 27 were adults

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