Thanks to the patient habituation efforts of our teams out in the bush, Khwai Private Reserve is somewhat of a mecca for wildlife these days, and it’s becoming particularly known for the leopards who call it home. So we decided to find out a bit more about these famously elusive spotted cats.
NOT A PARTY ANIMAL
Despite their good looks and natural charisma, leopards (Panthera pardus) are definitely not the life and soul of the party. Far from it, they’re actually the least social of Africa’s big cats, keeping to themselves apart from when it’s time to mate. The rest of the time they leave scratches and scent marks to make others aware of their territories.
THEY MIGHT SURPRISE YOU
Leopards are most commonly seen in trees or stalking through the bush of course, but you might be surprised to learn that they might be closer to everyday life than expected. The cats are able to adapt to a variety of habitats, even being spotted on the outskirts of cities such as Nairobi, Pretoria and Harare.
IN THE RIBBONS
The spots on a leopard’s coat are known as rosettes. Occasionally black leopards might also be seen. They still have rosettes, but they’re much harder to see as the entire coat is dark.
Leopards have quite an impressive variety of sounds that they make. A hoarse, raspy cough is usually employed when a male wants to let another male aware of his presence. Growls indicate anger, and when they’re feeling particularly at ease they might even purr!
Despite being widespread throughout the world, with populations in Asia as well as Africa, leopard numbers are sadly declining. This makes reserves such as Khwai, and the conservation efforts being carried out there, enormously important in keeping these glorious characters around for generations to come.