Friday, June 29, 2012

Interesting facts about Leopards



Facts of Leopards:
  1. Leopards hunt on land and in water—they are great swimmers..
  2. Leopards are nocturnal predators. .
  3. Leopards are solitary animals.
  4. Leopards weigh 70-180 pounds with a body length of 4-6 feet.
  5. Leopards stalk their prey until they are a few feet away and pounce the prey—they do not usually miss. If they do miss, then the prey is lucky since the leopard does not normally chase its prey. .
  6. Cubs stay with their mother for 22 months
  7. Leopards are the most common large cats in Africa - so it is ironic that it is also the cat that is the most difficult to spot when you are in the African bush.
  8. This is due to the fact that they are rather shying, secretive and mainly nocturnal.
  9. These cats are lucky to be largely free from persecution and in game reserves and they have grown completely accustomed to vehicles.
  10. Do not expect them too simply stroll across the road however.
  11. These animals are very agile climbers and pound for pound, the strongest climber of the large cats. To spot them you will usually need a pair of binoculars and scan the tree tops on the horizon.
  12. As you look for them in trees, you may notice them often draped along thick tree limbs in an effort to escape the midday heat.
  13. You may also be lucky enough to see them feasting on a kill they dragged aloft into a tree. They do this to keep their prize safe from scavengers such as hyenas.
  14. Leopards are graceful and powerful big cats closely related to lions, tigers, and jaguars. They live in sub-Saharan Africa, northeast Africa, Central Asia, India, and China. However, many of their populations are endangered, especially outside of Africa.
  15. The leopard is so strong and comfortable in trees that it often hauls its kills into the branches. By dragging the bodies of large animals aloft it hopes to keep them safe from scavengers such as hyenas. Leopards can also hunt from trees, where their spotted coats allow them to blend with the leaves until they spring with a deadly pounce. These nocturnal predators also stalk antelope, deer, and pigs by stealthy movements in the tall grass. When human settlements are present, leopards often attack dogs and, occasionally, people.
  16. Leopards are strong swimmers and very much at home in the water, where they sometimes eat fish or crabs.
  17. Female leopards can give birth at any time of the year. They usually have two greyish cubs with barely visible spots. The mother hides her cubs and moves them from one safe location to the next until they are old enough to begin playing and learning to hunt. Cubs live with their mothers for about two years—otherwise, leopards are solitary animals.
  18. Most leopards are light colour with distinctive dark spots that are called rosettes, because they resemble the shape of a rose. Black leopards, which appear to be almost solid in colour because their spots are hard to distinguish, are commonly called black panthers.
  19. Leopards are strong tree climbers—they can even climb a tree while carrying a prey their own weight. Leopards often carry their prey up trees to prevent other animals, such as hyenas, from sharing their kill. They also store their food in trees (though sometimes they store their food on ground under leaves or brush).
Are leopards territorial?

They are very solitary animals. They defend territories against other leopards of the same sex but the territories of males overlap those of females. They do seem to tolerate a certain level of overlap with their neighbours where rivals appear to avoid each other in some sort of "time-sharing system".

They advertise occupation of a territory by marking it with urine and faeces, clawing the bark of trees and by vocal signals.

These cats have astonishing powers of navigation and homing, a capacity that has hampered attempts to relocate them away from human settlement when they become stock raiders.

How fast can a leopard run?

This African animal can run at about 35 miles per hour.

What sounds do they make?

They have a distinctive contact call that sounds remarkably like a wood saw. This call allows territorial neighbours to keep away from each other, and males and females to find each other.

These animals growl when aggressive and spit and snarl when they feel threatened. Like your domestic house cat, they purr when the feel content.

What do leopards eat?

One reason behind their success lies in their diet, which spans a very wide range.

They eat almost any vertebrate, including reptiles, fish, and mammals ranging in size from dung beetles and porcupines to kudu.

They prefer medium-sized antelope like impalas. It is well known they eat more predators than do other carnivores, particularly jackals.

In the Kruger national park their diet consists of 29% impala, Burch ells zebra 16%, wildebeest 14%, warthog 13% and porcupine 13%.

In Savuti in the Chobe national park their diet consists of buffalo 41% and 29% zebra.

How do leopards hunt their prey?

The usual hunting technique is classically feline. When it sights a potential target it stalks forward with head low and legs bent making clever use of cover.

This African animal will stalk a target over distances of a few hundred meters, or wait in ambush if the target moves towards it.

Once it is within a range of about 10 meters, this cat dashes forward and uses the sharp, hooked claws of each forepaw to kill their prey.

The killing bite is directed at the nape of the neck or at the throat. Small prey such as mice, rats and small birds are simply swatted to death with a single swipe of a paw.

Guts of large prey are pulled out and discarded before it begins consuming its meals. It uses its incisor teeth to pluck birds and furry mammals such as rabbits.

Where there are many scavengers around the prey is carried up into a tree and wedged among the branches.

Their strength is demonstrated by their ability to carry carcasses weighing more than 50 kg up vertical tree trunks.

They readily eat rotten meat and will feed on a stored carcass for up to four days.

They scavenge if they get the chance and can steal kills from cheetahs, lone hyenas and any of the smaller carnivores.

How do leopards breed?

A female on heat attracts males by the smell of her urine. The male and female may stay together for several days, even sharing kills, and they mate repeatedly over a few days.

Cubs are born in heavy cover or in caves. They first accompany their mothers on hunts at four months and usually make their first kills at five months.

Is this African animal an endangered species?

These African animals are surprisingly adaptable and resilient in the face of human encroachment. They have long been preyed upon by man for their beautiful fur coat which has been used for clothing. They are one of the hunters big five and eco-tourism big seven.
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