Scientific Name : Panthera pardus
The leopard is the most adaptable of Africaís large predators and is able to survive in virtually any habitat, being at home in forest, savannah, desert or mountain top. These secretive cats may be found in close proximity to human settlements, even on the outskirts of large cities. Leopards are solitary and - in typical cat fashion - come together only to mate. Individuals live within home ranges in which they continually advertise their presence through calling and scent marking. All possible steps are taken to defend territories through scent, signs and signals rather than physical conflict. As a solitary hunter, a leopard cannot afford to become injured and must avoid confrontation. The size of a leopardís territory will depend upon the terrain and the density of available prey. Prime habitat often includes rocky outcrops or well-wooded drainage lines which provide ambush opportunities as well as den sites for cubs. One to three cubs are born blind and helpless and it is six weeks before they emerge from their den. Weaning takes place at about three months but it will be a year before they are able to fend for themselves. Female leopards range over smaller territories than males, and there is often overlap between mothers and their matured daughters. Leopards are the ultimate opportunists, feeding on a wide range of prey from winged termites, rodents and stranded catfish, to gray duiker, warthog, bushbuck, impala and young zebra. Leopards are most active at night but are not strictly nocturnal and will readily slink down the trunk of a tree at midday to take advantage of a hunting opportunity.