Leopard

Luiperd

Panthera pardus

 I might make myself unpopular by classifying leopard as a problem animal.  Serous conservation effort is going into caring about leopard lately (such as the projects in the Western Cape mountains and Eastern Cape).

Periodically leopard is also in the news with regards the controversial ways in which they get hunted (baited or with dogs).  Leopards are as opportunistic as jackal when comes to feeding.  They would ear fruit, carrion and insects when fresh meat becomes scarce.  The reality of the day is, however, that over the last 5 years leopard (and cheetah) has become a huge problem to up market game ranches.  It is easy for the armchair conservationist to demand that the leopard be given his fair share of daily food.  But when a sable or roan calves gets taken, the losses become too severe.  Farmers are encouraged to contact Nature Conservation when they experience problems, and most of them do.  But in the Northern Province leopard is lately said to be getting out of hand.

I have only once called in a leopard but did not shoot it.  Since, I have been toying with the idea of focusing on this predator as a special challenge, albeit not for shooting, just calling it in!

Leopards can get real big.  PH Johan Calitz tells of a client who took one of 93 Kg.

Leopards will seldom attach humans, unless wounded and cornered of course.  The recent killing of a Nature Conservation officer in the Kruger Park was tragic and isolated.  It is argued that it happened because she went for a jog, which is seen by a predator as fleeing.

Hunting

Besides having the dogs chase it up the tree, there is no practical way to hunt leopard other than hanging bait in a tree.  The details of the procedures vary, but that's about it.  Chances of coming opportunistically across a leopard while hunting antelope is close to nil, not to mention walking around searching for leopard.

Should we call it in?  Worth trying!

Remember, it is Cites I

 

Did you know?

Leopards do not have spots like cheetah, but rosettes.

The residential area of Delmas (open maize country half hour east of Johannesburg) was visited by a leopard the other day.