The leopard (Panthera pardus) is the shiniest, smallest and the strongest climber of the four "big cats" in the genus Panthera, the other three being the tiger, lion, and jaguar. Their shoulder blades even have special attachment sites for stronger climbing muscles. They spend much of their time in trees even when stalking prey and for eating. In Kenya, you can spot these sublime creatures while on a wildlife safari in most of Kenya's National Parks and Reserves.
Leopards are most active between sunset and sunrise. They are predominantly nocturnal, solitary animals, but each individual has a home range that overlaps with its neighbors. Males have a larger range, and a single male’s range will often overlap with the range of several females. Ranges are marked with urine and claw marks.
The females gives birth to a litter of two or three cubs after a gestation period of three months. TShe abandons her nomadic lifestyle until the cubs are large enough to accompany her. She keeps them hidden for the first eight weeks and moves them from one location to the next until they are old enough to start learning to hunt. They get their first taste of meat in six or seven weeks and stop suckling after about three months. The cubs continue to live with their mothers for about two years. They have a longevity of about 12-17 years.
Key identification features include a long tail, usually curled at the white tip, and beautiful rosette patterning (unlike a cheetah’s solid spots). Males are around one-third larger than females, with a larger head and more jowly throat.
Their diet fluctuates with prey availability, which ranges from strong-scented carrion, fish, reptiles, and birds to mammals such as rodents, hares, warthogs, antelopes, and baboons.
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