Leopards are the most secretive and elusive of the large carnivores and are also the shrewdest. Pound for pound, it is the strongest climber of the larger cats and is capable of killing prey far larger than itself – up to two or three times their own weight. There can be considerable variations in the size of Leopards due to their distribution and available resources, for example, Leopards that live in mountainous regions are smaller than those that live on savannahs due to their prey being smaller.
When visiting Kapama, ask any ranger about their favorite Leopard and they’ll likely tell you about an individual known as the Clara male. Having held a very large territory for as long as most of us can remember, Clara has proven the survivability of his species. Life as a Leopard is tough with constant competition from other Leopards, Lions and Hyenas, but Clara has an even harder situation. He has sustained a number of injuries over the years including losing an eye, an ear and has a broken leg. Nevertheless, he still harbors today through disputes over territory and even holding his own against a male Lion three times his size. Unfortunately these injuries, old age and competition have taken their toll on the old bush warrior and every time we see him his condition has deteriorated.
Some stories go that, as a young Leopard, Clara walked all the way from the Kruger National Park to establish a territory here.
This short tale is my tribute to the legend that is the Clara male. May his roars be heard deep into the African night for all time…
Tuhan Steyn
Ranger
Kapama River Lodge
2/5/2012

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