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  • DARREN MORRIS

How to spot the elusive leopard

They say a leopard never changes their spots' - but how can you tell unless you've seen one..?

These secretive camouflage experts have a reputation for being notoriously tricky to spot in the wild. Living mostly in solitude, you really need to know the right environment to increase your chances of seeing the magnificent leopard up close.


Luckily, I have put together my top recommendations for helping you spot this beautiful yet elusive member of the Panthera family.


Did you know?

Leopards have incredible eyes: they can see seven times better in the dark than humans, thanks to their big pupils that allow in more light. Their large eyes also provide them with a binocular vision to determine distance accurately. They do, however, see fewer colours than us!

I first saw leopard's in Zambia in 1989; it was one of my first trips overseas; like a lot of people, the closest I had ever seen any big cat was either in a zoo or a safari park in the UK, so I didn't really know what to expect.


On the second or third night, we were woken up to go out on a night drive, wrapped up warmly as it was so cold! We set off in the landrover with the trackers; one of the trackers had informed the camp that they had spotted a leopard earlier that evening and had been following it until now when we arrived at a safe distance; it was incredible. However, at nighttime, the landrover had a flashlight so we were to follow the leopard as it hunted.

The drive lasted almost 3 hours, and we actually saw such a rare event, a kill with the leopard and impala; we raced through the bush trying to keep up with the leopard, and in the distance saw the kill, not for everyone I know; however, it was such an exciting event to witness and so rare. You can see experience these events; it's rare but staying in the right reserve is important, as is the camp and the tracking staff.

I have added a few locations that you have a really great chance of viewing the leopard.


ZAMBIA

South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa National Park is a blissful combination of woodlands, river plains and lagoons. This environment is perfect for leopards, encouraging a high population and therefore a great likelihood you will see one of these beautiful big cats. With 7 nights accompanied by Norman Carr Safaris, visitors can live in leopard heaven with expert advice at their fingertips.


NAMIBIA

Okonjima Nature Reserve

This secluded nature reserve is home to the AfriCat Foundation, an organisation devoted to the conservation of leopards and hyenas. With their passion and knowledge, you know you're in the right place to get up close to the big cats of Okonjima and see them thrive in their most natural setting.

BOTSWANA

Moremi Game Reserve

Truly the pinnacle of safari experiences, Moremi Game Reserve is a must for any wildlife fanatic. This tranquil animal sanctuary is famous for its abundance of wildlife, with the chance of seeing a leopard almost unrivalled in Africa. Remember to bring a camera to snap big cats and a plethora of other wildlife!


SOUTH AFRICA

Sabi Sands Game Reserve

The Kruger is renowned as a place to lock eyes on the Big 5 successfully, and most excitingly, the leopard. I recommend staying at the Sabi Sands, a private reserve along the border and an apex of wildlife viewing. As you arrive by plane at the Chitwa Chitwa Game Lodge, you will be able to drink in the view and prepare yourself for an incredible stay in the bush!

For more information and to plan a once in a lifetime trip, please contact me personally.

darren@dgtravel.co.uk www.dgtravel.co.uk 01491 575511

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