Panthera pardus, the leopard

We had game drives on 8 days in September in the eastern Okavango region in Botswana, and enjoyed prolonged leopard encounters on every one of those days.

The first 3 nights were in the dry Savute Reserve, and the subsequent 4 in the Khwai community area which is immediately adjacent to both the Khwai Concession and the Moremi Reserve.

The leopard is my favourite cat - its combination of power and grace, combined with perfect adaptation to a solitary hunting lifestyle makes a more purposeful impression than the delicate cheetah, while it lacks the torpor and social aggression of the lion.

We had encounters of all types: in the open, in trees, with cubs, at the beginning and ends of the day, and at high noon. These including witnessing a 3-day struggle between a leopard and a persistent hyena over an impala kill (see my earlier post “Patience Rewarded”).

I am enormously grateful to our guides P-man and July, without whose skill I would never have got any of these images.

 Leopardess portrait, Moremi.

Leopardess portrait, Moremi.

Apparently the best way to tell leopards apart is by studying the pattern of spots above the mouth and on the cheek: how many individuals do you think there are here?

 Recalling lunch.

Recalling lunch.

 Yawning.

Yawning.

 Foraging with Mum.

Foraging with Mum.

Collective noun for leopards?

A ‘leap’ apparently.

 Gored leopard, probably from Warthog tusk.

Gored leopard, probably from Warthog tusk.

 On the path.

On the path.

 Searching for her cub.

Searching for her cub.

 Dappled hunter.

Dappled hunter.

 Leopard step.

Leopard step.

 Treed leopard.

Treed leopard.

Christmas lights switch-on in Shelford

Rehabilitating the hyena