This regal, spotted animal - prince of cats to some - is
cleverer than the Tiger and fiercer than the Lion. The Leopard is one of
the most beautiful and graceful animals in the jungle, also the most
Like human fingerprints, no two Leopard skins are identical in their markings, or rosettes. Colouration varies from the normal buff or straw-coloured sleek yellow coat with black rosettes to a rich yellow orange.
Depending on the habibat. The spotted cat is so strong that it is capable of dragging a prey weighing as much as itself some 9m up a tree so as not to be harassed by Lions, Hyenas or Jackals. On the outskirts of Gir once a farmer saw a Leopard climb a coconut tree with a full grown Wild Boar's carcass.
Most stealthier and athletic than the other big cats, the Leopard can run, jump, swim and climb trees with wonderful ease. The Leopards are spread over much of Gujarat, and in Gir they have been found in all the varied habitats and vegetation types i.e. deciduous, Teak dominant forests, thorn scrub, grasslands, riverine forests and village cultivated fields. Similarly it can occupy any terrain, whether it be hilly, undulating or flat.
The Leopard's principal weapons of attack are its claws,
five on fore feet and four on hind feet. When the Leopard extends its paw
to strike, the claws emerge instantly. Even the Leopard's strikingly
beautiful coat, aids in its killing and surviving. This spotted hide is
such a perfect camouflage that in broken lights and shadows, they deceive
the eye and obscure body contours. Yet, with all these marvellous physical
endowments the Leopard's most important single asset is its intelligence,
which ranks high on the evolutionary tree.
The Leopard's long tail provides a balance when it climbs. It spends much time resting or hiding in large crowned trees like banyan, tamarind, and teak. Being versatile predators, Leopards hunt mainly at night , but may also hunt during daytime. Once they detect the game by sight, they creep up silently before springing on their prey.
Usually after the kill, the Leopard drags the carcass into a dense thicket, where it can feed undisturbed. Before feeding, it disembowels the carcass and discards the guts. It usually prefers to eat the heart and the liver first, then the haunches. The uneaten portion of the carcass is occasionally hauled up into a tree or thick bushes, where it is safe from other animals.
A Leopard takes only one mate as has been generally seen,
and the pair show strong affection for each other. The home for the cubs
is likely to be a cave, a place under a rock ledge or a hollow tree. From
the time they are weaned at four months, until their death 16 to 23 years
later, Leopards start training the offspring in the art of hunting and
survival, as soon as they can waddle.
The mother teaches the cubs to stalk her moving tail and quickly moves it out of the way at the last moment. She will keep up with this wonderful practice till the cubs finally manage to catch it. The mother also takes them stalking in the forest or rocky areas to give them a glimpse of the real world. Education out there is for real. The cub that fails, starves, gets injured or simply dies.