Leopards are one of the most beautiful and interesting wildlife species that can be seen on safaris in Uganda. These animals belong to the cat family and are popular for their stealth behavior in addition to their camouflage patched coats that make it easy to blend with the environment. This is very important because their prey will not notice their presence ahead of time. Leopards are nocturnal and can only be seen during night game drives or early morning game drives. These animals do not roar as loud as the Lions but can also purr.
Leopards are rare and hard to find but when you see them, count yourself very lucky. Unlike the Lions, leopards live solitary lives and spend most of their time hidden on trees or maybe Caves, and like others carnivores, they hunt at night and only be seen during night game drives. They rarely wander through the Savannahs of forests so as to avoid the Kings of the Jungle who hunt and kill them sometimes. This is also another reason why leopards are difficult to find. Besides the Lions that are considered the obvious enemies of the leopards, the Hyenas are also their enemies because they always steal their catch/kill before leopards even get the chance to put it up the tree.
One of the interesting things about Leopards is that they reserve their kill and consume for an extended period of time. It’s not surprising that you will smell rotten carcass hanging from trees because they keep their prey from the hungry hyenas and other animals. While at or near human settlements, they will kill livestock and occasionally humans (although it is rare). Interestingly, they are good at swimming and can even hunt for fish in water. If pursued by the leopards, never risk running into water or climbing trees because they will beat you to the challenge (swimming). They also enjoy reptiles, sometimes insects and the grazers in the wild and funnily, they don’t only go for fresh meat like the lions but can also consume carcass if they come across it.
Much as Leopards are known to be solitary creatures, they are not live solitary lives during the mating period, of course just for a short while. It is very rare to find them in pairs and there is nothing as Prides of leopards and when you see them in pairs, you are sure it is just for reproduction and that’s it.
One special thing about these mammals is their ability to easily adapt to their environment and survive in different habitats that include rain forests, deserts, Savannah, mountains but because of their solitary way of life, their rate of reproduction and multiplication is slower compared to the lions that live in prides. They have no specific season for mating in that they can do it anytime of the year and their gestation period ranges from 90 to 100 days. Female leopards always give birth up to four cubs which have to be given utmost protection by their mothers until one and a half years to two years of age. During that time with their mother, they play together, learn how to hunt and survive independently.
Female leopards are twice smaller than their male counterparts. Due to the strength of these animals, they can kill prey that is three times bigger and heavier than they are and their common prey is antelopes including Uganda Kobs as well as the large ones like common elands.
Therefore, the wonderful and perfect places to see the Leopards in the wild include the Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semliki Forest National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park and the Lake Mburo National Park.