Lion | Leopard | Buffalo | Rhinoceros | Elephant | Wild Dog | Cheetah
The below chart shows the days on which leopard were not seen on the Mala Mala property
(the white blocks) during the year 2012.
2012: There were an average of 20 leopard sightings weekly. The most number of leopards in a single day numbered 9 cats in 8 sightings. Leopard were seen on all but 17 days in 2012.
2011: Leopard were seen on 354 days during 2011. On average there were 70 leopard sightings per month. On 5 August 7 different leopard were sighted.
2010: Leopards were viewed on all but 3 days in 2010. An average of 4 leopards is viewed daily on MalaMala.
2009: The most leopards recorded in a single day was 13. An average of over 4 leopards were seen daily. Leopards were seen on 360 days in 2009.
2008: The most leopards recorded in a single day was 12. On average there were 112 Leopard sightings per month Leopards were seen on 362 days in 2008.
2007: The most leopards recorded in a single day was 13 (26 May 2007). Leopard were viewed on 363 days in 2007.
2006: There were only 3 days when leopard were not seen. There were 37 occasions when in excess of 8 leopards were viewed in a single day.
2005: Leopard were seen on all but 13 days. 160 leopard sightings were recorded, An avergae of 4.19 per day.
2004: Leopard were viewed on 355 days. The most leopards recorded in a single day was 9.
2003: There were an average of 3.7 leopard sightings daily. There were 31 occasions when in excess of 8 leopard were viewed in a single day.
2002: There were only 7 days when leopard were not seen on MalaMala. The most number of leopard seen in a single day numbered 11 cats in 7 sightings.
2001: There were only 3 days when leopard were not seen on MalaMala. On the 15th of February, 12 leopards were seen in 8 different sightings.
2000: Leopard were seen on all but 20 days.
1999: Leopard were seen on 354 days. On the 24th of May, 11 different Leopard were sighted in 10 sightings.
Mass ± 60 kg / 132 lbs
Height ± 60 cm / 23 inches
Charging speed 80 km/h / 50mph
Potential longevity 21 years
Gestation period 3 1/2 months
The leopard is by far the most successful large predator in Africa, and arguably the world. Solitary and secretive by nature, leopards are capable of surviving on and around areas of human habitation such as farmland and forestry areas. Their relatively small size benefits them in this respect, as it reduces their food requirements compared to, for instance, a lion, and also enables them to supplement their principal diet of antelope-sized animals with smaller prey such as hares and even mice. The smallest prey items recorded are beetles, and the largest is an adult eland. In MalaMala the largest prey items that have been recorded are adult kudus and waterbuck; elsewhere zebras have been taken.
In this area female leopards average 35 kg and males 60kg. The maximum weight attained by a male leopard is probably about 90kg. In the Western Cape, leopards are significantly smaller, males averaging 32 kg and females 20 kg, which makes them in many instances smaller than a large male Caracal.
The density of leopards in the southern half of the Kruger National Park, which is where MalaMala is situated in ecological terms, is as high as has been recorded elsewhere. Leopard densities are effectively determined by prey abundance; hence in this area a female leopard’s territory averages around 20 square kilometers, whereas in the more arid Western Cape it is about 400 square kilometers, and in the semi-desert of the Kalahari, 800 square kilometers.
Leopards are typically thought of as being primarily nocturnal, yet observations at MalaMala, as well as studies involving radio tracking show that they are active during the day as well, more so in fact than lions. It is very rarely that a leopard is found in the afternoon in the same place that it was left in the morning, which is quite the opposite in the case of lions.
There are currently five highly dominant male leopards on MalaMala amongst others. The most noteworthy of these being the Bicycle Crossing Male in the north and the Chellahanga male in the south. Both these leopards roam through extensive territories with their core areas along the sand river. Indeed, it seems that the more successful a leopard is in this area, the more of the sand river he tends to claim. The younger, up and coming males in the area are all to be found further to the east of the property where the Sand River does not reach. There are currently four youngsters in a “coming of age” phase on MalaMala, the most notably being the Emsagwen Male residing along the Matshapiri river system. Incredibly active, this vocal male has already mated with two dominant females and seems hell bent on an encounter with the Bicycle Crossing Male, as he is constantly pushes the boundaries with MalaMala’s largest leopard. Well known for his kamikaze style of stealing buffalo calves from within the herds, the Bicycle Crossing Male is the epitome of what a male leopard is supposed to be. Nearing his age and territorial apex this leopard has of yet not given ground to a single other leopard and seems to have forgotten that leopards are not supposed to fight. Several times now, we have seen him knock other leopards of trees and many an unsuspecting, lone hyena has been aggressively dealt with when daring to approach his un-treed kills. He will soon become aware of his aggressor in the east and as close as their expanding territories currently are, a territorial standoff seems inevitable.
Of the female leopards, the Ngoboswan female is probably the most noteworthy. Having spent most of her adult life raising her many litters of cubs – most of which are now dominant on Mala-mala – she is showing little signs of slowing down while approaching her thirteenth year of life, currently raising two 15 week cubs, fathered by her long time mating companion, the Bicycle Crossing male. Her daughters, the Kikilezi and Cambell Koppies females are both having great successes as mothers while her now independent son is a source of great humor as everything moving becomes a source of his undivided attention. Comical when he’s stalking giraffe or buffalo and absolutely hair raising when it’s a porcupine or honey badger. So they learn…
The genus Panthera
Most taxonomists agree in placing the members of the cat family into 3 genera – Felis, which includes the smaller cats, Acinonyx, the cheetah, a monotypic genus which is to say it has only one species in it, and Panthera, which contains the tiger, lion, leopard and jaguar. One of the features that unites these four species is a loose hyoid cartilage, which makes them the only member of the cat family capable of growling and of roaring. The tiger is the largest species within this genus, followed by the lion, the jaguar and then the leopard. There is a significant range in weights between members of the same species in different areas – the very low weights of leopards in the Eastern Cape, for instance, have been noted in the preceding account – and between individuals in the same area. Different sources therefore give very different figures for weights, depending on whether the maximum weight is given, or an average weight taken from all records in all areas, a pretty meaningless figure, and so on. Most people have a good idea of the sizes of tigers, lions and leopards, and for the purpose of comparison it can be noted that a male jaguar averages 90 kg, which is the maximum recorded weight for a male leopard, and an outsize jaguar may reach 120 kg, which is the same size as an average lioness. None of these animals therefore can be considered lightweights, and it is generally agreed upon that their bite is painful and best avoided!
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