The most secretive and elusive of the large carnivores, the African Leopard is also the shrewdest. Pound for pound, it is the strongest climber of the large cats and capable of killing prey larger than itself.
The African Leopard comes in a wide variety of coat colors, from a light buff or tawny in warmer, dryer areas to a dark shade in deep forests. The spots, or rosettes, are circular in East African Leopard but square in southern African Leopard.
They live in bush and rocky surroundings and riverine forest are their favorite habitats, but the African Leopard adapts to many places in both warm and cold climates. Their adaptability, in fact, has helped them survive the loss of habitat to increasing human settlement. The African Leopard is primarily nocturnal, usually resting during the daytime in trees or thick bush. The spotted coat provides almost perfect camouflage. When a African Leopard stalks prey, it keeps a low profile and slinks through the grass or bush until it is close enough to launch an attack.
When not hunting, it can move through herds of antelopes without unduly disturbing them by flipping its tail over its back to reveal the white underside, a sign that it is not seeking prey.
The African Leopard is basically solitary and go out of their way to avoid one another. Each animal has a home range that overlaps with its neighbors; the male’s range is much larger and generally overlaps with those of several females. The African Leopard usually does not tolerate intrusion into its own range except to mate. Unexpected encounters between leopards can lead to fights.