Leopard Hunts in Africa
Leopard hunting in Africa is a test of will and patience. The leopard is the hardest trophy to acquire of the African Big five. It is also the most beautiful of the big five and ranks as one of the world’s most coveted trophies. Many a futile night has been spent in a leopard blind waiting for a wily male leopard to stealthily climb into the tree and approach the bait. The slightest noise or hint of something wrong and the leopard can disappear in a flash, never to be seen again. A leopard hunt is hard work, time consuming and requires your PH to think like a leopard. The best leopard PH’s are leopard fanatics and some would argue that they are part cat themselves.
Leopards are distributed widely throughout sub-Saharan Africa. A leopard hunt is permitted in most countries that allow hunting. Many of the largest specimens of leopards come out of Tanzania, Zambia’s Luangwa Valley, and areas of South Africa that abound with plains game. Male leopards have a large home range and have been known to travel home ranges of up to 190 square miles. Females have smaller home ranges. Leopards can climb trees well and are agile swimmers. Most leopards hunt immediately before or just after dark. Leopards are stalk and pounce hunters.
There are two primary ways of taking a leopard hunt in Africa, baiting and waiting and chasing with hounds. The traditional method for taking a leopard hunt is to place multiple baits in areas where leopards are expected to frequent and then once a leopard begins feeding on a bait, building a well concealed blind 50 – 75 yards from the bait and waiting for the leopard to come in to feed. South Africa and Zimbabwe allow the use of artificial light for leopard hunting, which greatly increases the odds of connecting. The second method for taking a leopard hunt entails searching the roads until a large fresh leopard track is located and then releasing the hound pack on the leopards trail. Many times this will result in a snarling leopard high up on a branch on a tree. Once the hunters catch up, an assessment is made as to trophy quality and if adequate, the hunter shoots the leopard out of the tree.