Spots before your eyes



Spots before your eyes




Nimali Africa


November 2023

The leopard is Africa's quintessential big cat

Oozing feline charisma, the leopard is the rock star of Tanzania's great plains, sleeping for most of the day and causing proverbial mayhem at night. With its stunning coat, mesmerising eyes and effortless grace, it's easy to forget that it's also one of the most efficient and clever predators in the African savannah, as well as being the most beautiful killer we've ever seen!

The leopard disguises its murderous intent very well. Beneath that glorious pelt of intricate rosettes lurks a hunting powerhouse equipped with razor-sharp retractable claws, teeth that can rip through the toughest hide, enough muscle to lift a carcass more than double its own bodyweight vertically up a tree and the intelligence to stage the most intricate ambushes.

Renowned for their cleverness and canny hunting skills, leopards are patient stalkers, often spending hours shadowing their would-be prey unseen, waiting for the right moment to unleash their killer instinct. They have absolute focus, assessing wind direction and speed, levels of cover and singling out animals that appear weak or have a size disadvantage, moving as close as possible to their targets using the trademark ground-level crawl that bears their name.

They use topographical features to their advantage, maintaining their invisibility until the very last minute when they launch themselves forward, using their powerful legs to chase and bring down prey much bigger than themselves.

Lone rangers

Leopards lead mostly solitary lives. Males only seek out company when mating, becoming bachelors again once the deed is done. Females have two to three cubs and spend up to two years with them before they head out to forge their own lives. In between litters, and mating, females are complete loners as well, with carefully guarded territories that they take pains to defend. Males have larger territories that cover that of several females.

It's their single status that adds to their mystery, along with their predilection for secrecy. Leopards don't like to advertise their presence because their dinner depends on going undetected!Those gorgeous rosettes - the rose-like collection of spots and blotches that make leopards so visually appealing - are almost like a cloaking device, working as effective camouflage in dappled undergrowth, allowing for absolute stealth.

A cat for all seasons

The most adaptable of Africa's big cats, leopards are found literally everywhere on the sub-continent, from the vast savannahs of the Serengeti to dense woodlands and rainforests, and even the concrete jungles of towns and cities! They're not picky eaters and will readily adapt their hunting techniques to catch and eat everything from rodents and birds to monkeys and antelopes.

Their tree-climbing abilities are legendary, thanks to powerful claws, raw muscle power and agility that makes scaling vertical tree trunks look effortless. Leopards love trees, and you'll often see them spending their days sleeping in high branches where they manage to escape the heat and biting insects. Of course, leopards are known for using trees to stash their kills in, keeping carcasses out of reach of other predators like lions and hyenas.  

It's when night falls that leopards come into their own, using the cover of darkness for hunting and moving around invisibly. With a keen sense of smell, pin-point hearing and sharp night vision, leopards are an unstoppable nocturnal force of nature.

We are blessed with regular leopard sightings at Nimali Serengeti and Nimali Mara but at Nimali Tarangire we have the ability to do night drives, making the most of the opportunity to spot these fantastic big cats in their element! So come and join us on a Safari for the Senses and hopefully meet this wonderful feline in person!

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