If you are looking for leopards in Namibia, Google won’t be of much use to you. You will have to go through several pages of advertisements for trophy hunting lodges before you find anything of interest to the nature lover. Don’t give up though. If you’d rather shoot a leopard with your camera, we’ve accumulated some of the best snippets of information about this elusive creature right here.
Likely hunting spots
The first question on your mind is probably, “Where can I tick this member of the Big Five off my list of noteworthy Namibian animals to photograph?”.
Leopards are alive and well throughout Namibia, despite the efforts of the trophy-hunting community, largely due to the dedication of organizations such as the Africat Foundation and the concerted efforts of conservation areas like Etosha National Park.
You can take your chances with a leopard sighting at various spots in Etosha, such as Moringa, Stark’s Pan, Rietfontein, Goas, Nuamses and Kalkheuwel waterholes.
Leopards are occasionally seen during the day at these places but you can also settle down for an evening vigil overlooking one of the floodlit waterholes at any of the reserve’s camps in the hopes of an after-dark sighting.
Handsome and highly prized
Like all members of the Big Five, leopards made it onto the safari-goers hit list thanks to their violent and aggressive reaction to being wounded during a hunt. They have more than earned their place at the top of the ranks in many other ways too.
Heading the list of appealing traits, the leopard’s good looks cannot be denied. A handsome mottled coat of rosettes, piercing eyes, and muscular physique make it one of the most photogenic animals around. These traits are for more than just window-dressing though.
Survival of the fittest
Each leopard’s rosette-spotted pelt is unique and highly effective at concealing it from hunters and prey among the leafy, shadowy boughs of riverside trees. The yellow eyes are perfectly adapted for night-time hunting, with vision that is 7 times better than ours in the dark.
They can also hear 5 times the amount that we can, giving them an unfair advantage when it comes to avoiding contact with humans.
Pound for pound, leopards are the strongest of all the big cats, capable of heaving carcasses of impala and springbok high out of the reach of their rival predators and defending their territory ferociously. After man, leopards are most often killed by other leopards.
These cats can move at speeds of up to 58km per hour, jump 6m across and 3m upwards, so you will need to have your photo shooting gear close at hand if you want to catch them in action.
The sly and elusive nature of the leopard also makes them such a sought-after safari prize. Along with their nocturnal habits, leopards go out of their way to keep to themselves and wisely avoid contact with humans at all costs.
They are seldom seen together, except during brief courtship rituals or while the mothers are nurturing their cubs. Your best chance to spot one of these cats is on a guided game drive when you can consider yourself lucky to see one at all.
Your best chance at taking aim
If you are planning to shoot a leopard (with your camera) in Namibia, you are going to need patience and possibly the skill of an experienced game guide. Many of the best photographs you see of these big cats have taken days, even weeks of waiting it out in likely spots.
Keep your camera ready to fire at any moment and when you finally bag that once-in-a-lifetime shot, it will all be worthwhile. We look forward to welcoming you to Namibia and wish you happy hunting!