For the past two weeks we have been treating a young Brahman calf that was allegedly attacked by a leopard not too far away from SanWild. In an attempt to mitigate the effects of human/wildlife conflict we have taken it upon ourselves to compensate and assist landowners to help with the protection of leopards and other large predators outside our boundaries. She is recovering well and we are closely monitoring her progress. All veterinary fees for this young animal is carried by our Trust.
Leopards are solitary and secretive carnivores that are excellent hunters. They occur over large parts of sub-Saharan Africa and most of South Africa, excluding the Greater Karoo basin. They are adapted to many habitats and can be found from arid, desert regions that receive very little rain to humid forests and mountainous regions. As one of the ‘Big 5’, leopards attract many Eco tourists to South Africa, who go looking for them in the Kruger National Park or Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Unfortunately, leopards are persecuted and sometimes killed by some farmers and other livestock owners who want to protect their livestock from these fierce predators.
Leopards are elegant, solitary and secretive carnivores. They have stocky muscular bodies, short powerful legs, a big head and long tail. This creature has big, pale greyish/greenish eyes, long whiskers and sharp canines.
Cubs are greyish with barely visible spots while adults have a yellow/golden undercoat with black rosettes and spots. The rosettes usually do not have a spot in the middle and they are found on the side of the body, back and upper tail. The rest of the body (legs, belly, neck and face) is covered with small to large black spots and the spots found on the lower front neck often form a characteristic ‘necklace’ or ‘bib’. The spotted whisker bases and rosette patterns are unique to each leopard and are thus used to identify individuals. Leopards are white on the belly, inner legs and neck. The back of the ears are white at the top and black below. There are some leopards that appear to have a completely black undercoat (panthers) due to the high production of melanin. However, they still have rosette patterns, which are visible under certain light intensities.
Males tend to be bigger (31–91 kg weight, 1.8–2.3 m in length) than females (17–58 kg weight, 1.7–1.9 m in length). Leopards found living in savannah and woodlands are generally larger than those found in mountainous and desert terrain.