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Finding the elusive leopard

Tips to better your chances of finding a leopard on South African safari.


Many an adventurer visits Africa with the hope of sighting a leopard, their secretive nature, graceful glide and rosetted coat have made these big cats a wonder to behold. Finding these treasures is certainly quite a challenge on most occasions. Leopards are exceptional climbers and rely on dense foliage to stalk their prey, making them more partial to traversing riverbanks and closely surrounding areas where prey animals such as nyala and bushbuck tend to feed in the thickets. The added cover and well established trees on the banks makes for ideal hunting grounds where the big cat is able to stalk, catch and hoist their prey. When searching for these mysterious predators it is always a great idea to traverse areas near a river and carefully scan the trees.

Often the birds and animals will pick up on a predators presence before we do, listening for distress calls or looking out for unusual behaviour from prey animals such as vervet monkeys, impalas and grey go away birds certainly aids the search. A leopard will tend to hunker down in a dense area if they are unsure about a situation, so once the animals alert you to the presence of a predator it helps to switch off the vehicle and patiently pay attention, the cat may relax and show itself.

Being aware of the sights and sounds when on a guided drive is a must, though the guide and tracker are experts in their field it is a tough task to find leopard in particular and the more people keeping an eye out the higher the chances of spotting a cat.

Leopards are nocturnal and these cats tend to relax more when they have the cover of darkness around them, thus increasing your chances of seeing them. Enquire about a night drive at your chosen venue, if it is an option then go for it.

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