Where To View Leopards In 2023-2024 : Here Are The Best Places In Africa : The leopard is arguably the best way to describe the African continent. While the elephant’s enormous size makes it the most impressive African mammal and the regal lion may hold the title of King of the Beasts, it is the leopard’s enigmatic nature that most adds to its allure as an animal to see on safari and best captures the spirit of the African continent.
Leopards can be difficult to locate in large parts of Africa, especially in regions where human-wildlife conflict has been a problem over time. Although present, they are still unnoticed. They live almost everywhere, from the mountains outside of Cape Town to the wide-open deserts of the Sahara, but they are primarily nocturnal creatures that go unnoticed during the day.
Yet leopards are clearly visible in a few African wildlife reserves. The big cats there have known for a long time that the game viewing vehicles don’t pose a threat to them, so they allow them and the visitors they hold into their daily lives. The following locations will give you your best chance of seeing leopards in the wild, though there is no such thing as a guaranteed sighting:
Sabi Sand Reserve, South Africa
A recent camera-trap survey by the Panthera Organization, long regarded as the epicenter of wildlife viewing in Southern Africa, firmly established this iconic reserve as housing the densest leopard population ever seen on the African continent. The area has an abundance of natural prey species and is the ideal habitat for hunting and raising cubs. In the park’s center, there are about 12 leopards per 100 square kilometers.
Many top-notch lodges, including Londolozi, Singita, and Mala-Mala, have years of experience introducing visitors to the region’s wonders, particularly the leopards. We believe that the Sabi Sands offer THE best opportunity to see leopards in the wild because knowledgeable rangers are familiar with the habits and territorial movements of the local individuals.
South Luangwa, Zambia
The South Luangwa National Park offers exceptional game viewing despite not being as well-known as other modern reserves. The Luangwa River provides a much-needed source of water during the dry season, allowing the region to support healthy general game populations. The local leopard population prefers these antelope species, particularly puku and impala.
Large evergreen trees offer secure havens where leopards can hide and hoist kills to keep them out of reach of hyenas. Riparian vegetation along the river and its numerous tributaries provides the ideal habitat for the leopards to slink through.
Although the Serengeti/Maasai Mara ecosystem in East Africa is better known for having the largest populations of lions and cheetahs in Africa, it also has plenty of leopards. The setting here is what makes leopard viewing so appealing, even though sightings won’t be as frequent as in other reserves.
Wherever you see a leopard—and in particular, photograph it—you are likely to experience the sense of space that the larger habitat brings. Wide open spaces. Unrestricted Acacia Woodland Views that are impossible to believe, with the seemingly never-ending African plains spreading out all around you. A million snorting wildebeest will be your constant background companion if you happen to be there during the migration. The East African grasslands are a wildlife experience unlike any other, leopard or no leopard.
Our final suggested location for spotting leopards is not one that one would typically anticipate being on a list like this. In fact, until recently, it wasn’t really known as a location to see these stunning cats on a global scale. However, over the past few years, one or two leopards in particular in a small region called Laikipia in central Kenya have captured the attention of the safari community more broadly.
An animal that has a rare recessive gene that codes for an excess of melanin, a dark pigment, is significantly darker than a typical person. This is the mythical Black Panther. Contrary to popular belief, black panthers are not exclusively black big cats from the Panthera genus; they can also be either leopards or jaguars. If you look closely, you can still make out the rosettes in their coats.
There have been a few recent births in the Laikipia district, and while the majority of them are shy and difficult to locate, one or two of them live close to Laikipia Wilderness Camp and have grown accustomed to game drive vehicles, making it possible to take breathtaking pictures. With its abundance of rare species, Laikipia is a fantastic place to go on an African safari, even if you don’t get to see this most special of leopards.
Leopards beautifully capture the idea of a safari. Despite the fact that they are on many safari goers’ bucket lists, many tourists to Africa harbor little optimism about actually seeing them. However, if it’s an animal you really want to see, we have a number of lodges we heartily recommend to give you the best chance. Contact us at Focus East Africa Tours (www.Focuseastafricatours.com) to begin organizing your African safari.