The Leopard: A Gentle and Powerful Predator
The Leopard is a very adaptive predator that can change their diet depending on the environment and availability of food. Leopards usually feed on medium and small sized prey like baboons, foxes, fish, Hyrax, antelope, Wildebeest, Buffalo, Giraffe and birds. When there isn’t any sufficient prey the Leopard will resort to eating insects and fruits until something better comes along. Leopards have also been known to live on the outskirts of villages in order to find a decent meal. Leopards will lay around during the day, waiting for night to come so it can hunt much easier.
Leopards will also hunt during the day depending on the environment. Leopards aren’t as fast as their skinnier, faster cousins the Cheetah and thus they rely on ambushing their prey. Leopards will stalk their prey while being concealed in tall grass, as their coat colour and spots make them blend in with the environment, and will pounce when close enough. When stalking larger prey like Kudu and Wildebeest, the Leopard will attempt to bite and hold onto the throat of the animal, letting it asphyxiate and when hunting smaller prey like Rooibok, the Leopard will attempt to bite and hold onto the neck of the animal which usually severs the spine, paralyzing the prey. The Leopards is a strong climber and will carry its kill up a tree and place it in the fork when it gets threatened by scavengers like Hyena.
As before mentioned, Leopards are very adaptive animals (and not just when it comes to food) and can live in a variety of climates and conditions. Leopards can live in open grassland areas, bushveld, semi-deserts, mountains and forests. Any environment that will provide enough cover for the leopard will suffice. The numbers of the Leopard population have diminished over the years but can still be found in a variety of areas including the Kruger National Park and the Pilanesberg National Park as well as mountains and farmlands.