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Saturday, 28 November 2009

Identifying Leopards

The Leopard is without a doubt one of the most beautiful cats in the world.

The only thing that equals this beauty is their elusive nature and the fact that they are pretty hard to find. Females are generally a great deal smaller than males which makes at least that aspect easy to differentiate but how do you tell different animals of the same sex apart?

The easiest way in which to do this is to look at the spots on the cat's face. These are, like a human fingerprint, unique to each individual and gives us the ability to identify individual animals.

Here is a quick example. Have a look at the two images of these female leopards we see on a regular basis.


At first glance not a huge amount of difference. If we now go and look at the dots in between the eyes you can start seeing the differences.

Even though this female has the same two brackets just above the eyes, the 'W' shapes in between the eyes are pretty skew and off centre. The warped spot just above her right eye is also diagnostic.

The young female in the bottom images has a much more clearly defined 'W' in between her eyes whith the two brackets on the sides of it. The two lines of spots that run up the forehead is also diagnostic.

There is always great excitement when we get the chance to photograph these beautiful cats at close range as this gives us the chance to identify the various individuals.


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