Places to See Leopards in Africa : Of the four “big cats” in the genus Panthera—the tiger, lion, and jaguar are the other three—the leopard (Panthera pardus) is the brightest, smallest, and strongest climber. Stronger climbing muscles can even attach to specific attachment points on their shoulder blades. Even when they are hunting and feeding, they spend a lot of time in trees. Most of Kenya’s national parks and Reserves provide wildlife safaris where you can see these magnificent animals.

Between dusk and dawn is when leopards are most active. Although they are mostly solitary, nocturnal creatures, each one has a home range that overlaps with its neighbours. Males have a wider range, and the ranges of multiple females frequently overlap with those of a single male. Urine and claw markings are used to identify ranges. After a three-month gestation period, the female gives birth to one litter of two or three cubs. She gives up her nomad way of life until the cubs are big enough to go with her. For the first eight weeks, she hides them, then shifts them around until they reach the age when they can begin learning to hunt. In six or seven weeks, they have their first taste of meat, and after about three months, they cease nursing. For almost two years, the cubs stay with their mothers. Their lifespan is between 12 and 17 years.

Important characteristics for identification are a long tail that is typically curled at the white tip and stunning rosette patterning, which differs from a cheetah’s solid spots. Males have a bigger head and a more jowly throat than females, making them about one-third larger.

Leopards are the most elusive of Africa’s big cats and the most difficult of the Big Five to locate, even though they are the most widely distributed wild cat species, found throughout Southern Africa. This is because they are loners and, being ambush hunters, they stay hidden in places with plenty of trees and dense undergrowth on purpose. The leopard is a nocturnal animal in many areas of its range. There are still several safari locations that are renowned for having strong leopard populations, despite the fact that poaching, habitat destruction, and conflicts with farmers have all contributed to a drop in the species’ worldwide population. Not only should you visit these hotspots for leopards, but you should also schedule night drives, keep an eye up (leopards spend a lot of time sleeping in trees), and listen for the alarm sounds of antelope and baboons, among other prey animals.

1: Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya 0703047015

While the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya is primarily known for its prides of lions, leopards were also captured on camera for the renowned documentary Big Cat Diaries for a reason. If you want to view them, stay away from the wide grasslands that are home to lions and cheetahs and instead visit the region’s forested riverine habitats. All kinds of predator sightings rise from July to November when millions of wildebeest and zebra move northwards from the Serengeti and into the Mara Triangle. Hungry leopards have an easy time snatching up the ill and young. Angama Mara, which prioritises conservation and leopard encounters, is a good option for lodging. By adding images to the lodge’s photographic proof database, guests may help enhance awareness of and sightings of leopards. There have been 22 leopard records added to the database since the start of 2018. The Maasai Mara itself forbids night time driving, just like Moremi. For after-dark leopard sightings, book a couple nights in a private conservancy.

2:Southern Luangwa National park

South Luangwa National Park sits in east Zambia, in the Luangwa Valley. The region is also referred to as the Valley of the Leopard, a fitting appellation considering that it is home to Africa’s greatest population of the magnificent spotted cats. One leopard is thought to exist for every two square kilometres, according to estimates. South Luangwa is a good location for leopards because of its remarkable diversity of prey and its thick forest cover, which offers the shelter required for ambush strikes. Known for their audacity, South Luangwa’s leopards are frequently spotted throughout the day, reclining in branches and occasionally hunting right in front of safari vehicles. Drives at night are permitted, which is unusual for a national park and increases your chances of spotting a leopard in the wild. Walking safaris are another popular feature of the park. Visit during the late dry season (August to October) for the finest sightings, as this is when animals concentrate near waterholes and it is easiest to see leopards.

3:Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa

While South Luangwa may have the highest concentration of leopards, South Africa’s Sabi Sands Game Reserve is the most well-known spot in Africa for leopard sightings worldwide. It is situated on the unfenced border that separates it from Kruger National Park on the west. Over forty years of researching the park’s leopards has allowed rangers at the heart of the reserve, Londolozi Lodge, to identify individual resident cats. There’s a strong likelihood of a close encounter because of their extensive awareness of each cat’s behaviours and territories. Although Londolozi’s database only lists 20 named leopards, during an 11-month period, they recorded approximately 50 individuals in the area, including visiting nomads. Night game drives offer some of the best sightings, and rangers are free to drive off-road to improve their position if they discover a leopard. For those who are serious about improving their photography, the lodge also provides specialised big cat photography excursions.

4:Okonjima Nature Reserve, Namibia

To almost certain seeing leopards, visit the Okonjima Nature Reserve located in the northern region of Namibia. Nestled in the Omboroko Mountains’ foothills, The AfriCat Foundation conducts research, rehabilitates injured predators, and implements community education programmes within the reserve. As part of a density study project, rescued leopards wear radio tracking collars and are allowed to roam freely across the 200 square kilometre reserve. While certain aficionados of safari purists would object to the notion of being guided to a sighting via satellite, it’s an excellent method of getting up close and while supporting conservation efforts. A night drive offers the opportunity to witness caracals, aardwolves, brown hyenas, and bat-eared foxes. You can also track cheetahs on foot. Some of the bush villas and camps offer the opportunity to observe leopards from the comfort of your own temporary home, thanks to nocturnal hides and floodlit waterholes.

5: Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

In Botswana, there are plenty of great spots to see leopards; the Okavango Delta’s periphery offers the best opportunities. These include the Linyati and Savuti reserves (between the Okavango and Chobe National Park), but the Moremi Game Reserve is regarded by many as the top travel destination. The Khwai River Region, which is located in the eastern part of the Delta, is home to many animals due to its perennial water pools and dense forest, which enables leopards to approach their prey stealthily. Leopard sightings during the day are almost routine due to the abundance of these animals. You will have to stay outside the reserve on a private concession, such as the opulent Khwai River Lodge, if you really want to see a night safari.

It’s suggested to go on at least one night drive, if only for the excitement of looking around in the dark to see if someone is wearing a spotlight. Along with lions and cheetahs, the endangered African wild dog can also be found in Moremi Game Reserve and the concessions that encircle it.

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