The African LeopardBy Lize Joubert - 16502094
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The African Leopard is part of South Africa’s Big Five. This animal with its multi-coloured coat is one of the most dangerous cats in the world. Its body has large brown and black spots, while its head and belly has solid black spots, which help to keep it camouflaged in the wild. The male leopards are bigger than the female cats, weighing in at approximately 60kg. The female cats’ weight differs from 35 to 40kg. As you can see below, the African Leopard is very large when compared to a normal sized human being:
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Some interesting facts about the leopard are that it is a superb predator and has a long, strong and stealthy body with short and thick limbs and broad, powerful paws. This helps the leopard to kill and dismember its prey. The leopard is also an exceptionally well tree climber with heavily-muscled shoulders and front legs to help it haul its prey up in trees.
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The leopard is often mistaken for the cheetah, but there is a big difference between the two. The leopard has a bigger frame and head while the cheetah has a small cat-like frame with a small head. The cheetah is also the fastest land animal, not the leopard, although the leopard is also quite fast. The leopard's body has brown and black spots, while the cheetah has solid black spots. As you can see below, there is a big difference between these two cats:
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The African Leopard inhabited a wide range of habitats in Africa, due to their ability to adapt easily. They occur from mountainous forests to the savannahs, but not in extremely sandy deserts. There have been sightings of leopards in close proximity of cities in the past, but nowadays they tend to remain far from the human population. Leopards are solitary and highly territorial animals, only allowing other animals in their territory when it is mating or with cubs. Female leopards usually have two to three cubs per litter, but it can reach up to four cubs. The gestation period lasts up to 100 days. The young cubs are kept away in various shelters, and often moved for safety, up to the age of six weeks. Cubs start to hunt from the age of five months.
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Leopards are most active during the night time; however some female leopards, that do not have any cubs, tend to be somewhat active during the day. The leopard is not an easy animal to spot, due to its nocturnal lifestyle, but is usually seen basking in the sun high up on a tree branch. This also makes it easier for the leopard to spot its prey.
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The prey of leopards stretch over a wide variety, including dung beetles, rodents, antelopes, hares and elands which can reach up to 900kg. After catching its prey, the leopard will haul it up in a tree where he will eat it away from other scavengers. This proves the leopard’s strength. They will only prey on domestic livestock when other food is scarce. When catching its prey, the leopard will stalk close and run a short distance after their prey. When the prey is caught, the leopard will kill by grabbing the animal by its throat and biting with their powerful jaws, this leads to the suffocation of the animal.
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The Big Five is represented on all South Africa’s bank notes, the leopard is featured on the R200 note.
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The Leopard makes a loud roaring sound, but it is most often heard calling others with a repetitive, short, rasp-like noise. The sound that the leopard is making below, is a warning to the tourists nearby that they are too close, thus this is a territorial roar.