Leopards are powerful, muscular creatures, 7 times stronger than humans and are Africa’s most successful hunters. They are extremely adaptable living in both arid regions to rain forests and mountainous terrain.
Leopards occur throughout most of Namibia with an estimated 11 700 animals in the country. Worryingly numbers dropped by 17% between 2011-2019, a combination of human conflict and drought.
They have tawny to yellow fur with black rosettes that don’t have a central spot. The head, belly, & lower parts of the limbs have solid black spots. Males are larger & heavier than females (average 55kgs compared to 35kgs). The underneath of the tail is white to help cubs follow their mother.
Leopards are solitary, predominantly nocturnal animals, rarely seen with other leopards unless during mating season or a female with her young. They each have a territory that they mark with faeces, urine & claw marks, although a male’s territory may overlap those of several females.
They are skilled climbers & swimmers. They can carry 3.5 times their body weight and often store their kills in trees. This is often how they keep their hard-earned food from other predators.
Although normally silent, they can make a variety of noises – males make a deep raspy growl when threatened but they can also purr when happy, a sound normally heard between a mother & her cubs.
Extremely varied depending on what is available – from insects, antelopes, birds & even fruit. They stalk & ambush their prey, pouncing when close enough & clamping their powerful jaws around their kill until they suffocate. For short distances they can reach speeds of 60 km/h. However, if they fail to catch their prey on their first attempt they rarely chase them.
Mating can occur at any time of year & a female raises her young alone. Pregnancy takes c.3 months with a litter of 1-3 cubs. Leopard cubs are born blind & only open their eyes after 6-10 days. They are very vulnerable at this stage so the female will move them every few days. Around 3 months old they will start eating meat. However, it is a year before they can fend for themselves.