Mom and Cubs Take a Stroll
The recent visit by a female leopard and her cubs at Elephant Plains was not only a great viewing opportunity, but a learning time as well.
Watching the cats meander around the waterhole and eventually walk out of view, gave us a glmpse of the easy going life that leopards in protected areas can still enjoy.
Leopards are both nocturnal and arboreal (spending a lot of time in trees), and very secretive, usually hunting well after dusk. Their nocturnal lifestyle is probably a reaction to human pressures and hunting. In National Parks like Nkorho, large game reserves and other remote areas they can be seen moving about more readily during the day. Very adaptable cats, over time the leopard has learned he is not as safe hunting in the daylight as he is under the stars.
The leopard, often thought of as the most beautiful of the big cats, pays a big price for being so sleek and sultry. His beautiful coat is sought after by poachers that use any means possible to capture the cats. As recently as this past Sunday, poachers were seen cutting wire on the SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary's perimeter fences. When followed, snares and fresh leopard bait were found as well. Members of a professional hunting group were seen leaving the area dressed in the same clothing as the two suspected poachers. As fierce and regal as the leopard looks, he becomes just as fragile as a butterfly when the poacher sets a snare and lures him in.
Seeing the trio of leopards walk through, seemingly carefree and content, was more than just a great moment for cam watchers. It helped to remind us that while animals are endangered all over the world, its places like Kruger National Park that do their best to provide a haven of safety. While controversial at times, the Parks and Preserves are desperately trying to shelter the last remaining wild places around the world, hopefully saving the animals from their worst enemy...us.