A Chess match with teeth... thats what a leopard hunt is to me. I love it, cat hunting is one of my favorite activities. I have scouted, placed and hung over 1,000 leopard baits. I have seen a lot of cats in person and I get the pleasure of monitoring and hunting many of them each season.
This was the most interesting bait of 2020. I have watched this leopard for over 2 years. He is big and dominant and I know his territory; I cross paths with him frequently.
He is exceptionally hard to hunt due to his habits. The most interesting of these is his parental habits. He seems to have an ongoing relationshipswith his cubs. Now, if you know anything about leopard or read the published biology in them, you will find that leopard are considered a solitary animal. Only females care for young until they go it alone (maximum 2 years of age or younger). Thus a 'group' of leopard will consist of a mature female and her subadult offspring. I think there may be exceptions to this and this behavior may be more than just the habits of a fatherly Tom in the wilderness of Tanzania.
This male cat has repeatedly helped raise 2 of his litters. This is rare to witness and many will probably dispute the behavior I have witnessed or explain it as something else (which I welcome). Others may have seen the same?
This is hard stuff to prove scientifically; but I have witnessed this huge male play with, tolerate, discipline, feed with and feed after his cubs on multiple occasions with the mother leopard in attendance. This male tolerates and interacts with the mother in a calm and easy way, even passing each other on the limb. She is not in heat at the time and no mating was observed. She was comfortable to exit the general area without hesitation with the male around and cubs or in the tree.
These behaviors occured with a single cub in my presence in 2018. It occurred again in 2020 with a set of cubs (one male and one female cub). The behavior was seen and documented on several occasions each year.
Is it only this Tom that behaves in this way? I have learned in my short life things are not as unique as you may think...in general its happened before! Especially with Mother Nature.
To me its pretty interesting stuff and may rewrite a small part on the biology on this elusive and adaptive predator.
- Nathan Askew