A leap of leopards and a new years day family reunion!Photographer : Radheesh Sellamuttu (Managing Director, Leopard Trails) / Dinal Samarasinghe (Game Ranger, Leopard Trails)
What is the collective noun that applies to leopards? A group of leopards is referred to as a “leap of leopards”.
Leopards are known to be solitary animals and when more than one is spotted together they are generally a mating pair or a mother with her cubs. On very rare occasions, fathers have been known to be seen with a mother and their cubs. So why were there 5 leopards together in one instance and 6 leopards together in the 2nd instance?
On a lonely patch of road in Yala national park we come across 5 leopards on Sunday the 25th January. On a previous occasion on the 1st of January we came across 6 leopards together. On both occasions we were able to identify 3 young animals who were born to a particular mother, with the mother being present. So who is this fifth and sixth cat? We have discussed several theories but cannot confirm either theory with certainty. We are not going to go into the detail of all the photographs analyzed and all the spot pattern ID’s used to make inferences! However, one likely theory that we cannot rule out yet is that there was a fourth cub in the litter (that covers the sighting of 5 together) and that the father joined them on a new years day stroll (which covers the sighting of 6 together)! Again, we cannot be sure of this theory yet.
In recent years those in the safari industry and those in research have spoken of female leopards mating with separate neighboring males to trick each male into thinking that they are the father to the cubs born 3 months later. If this did happen in Yala with the mother in question it could give rise to a few other explanations for our sightings!
Here are some of the images captured during the sightings. Enjoy!!