Magazine article Geographical

Kenyan Journal

Magazine article Geographical

Kenyan Journal

Article excerpt

Wildlife photographer and author Jonathan Scott, and his wife Angie, are about to go on safari, to follow the wildebeest migration -- provided they don't meet a local leopard first

The distinctive smell of a leopard wafted towards Angle and I as we ran past a prominent clump of bushes. We gave each other a knowing look but said nothing, too intent on forcing our weary legs up the rock-strewn slope leading back to our house. The leopard had probably wandered along the path in the night, stopping every so often to sniff the foliage for signs of other leopards, then spraying its own scent to establish a new odour. By scent marking -- something both male and female leopards do -- they advertise their presence to other leopards without having to meet, unless they want to, such as when a female is in season. This helps avoid unnecessary conflict. We had no reason to worry. The leopard would have tucked itself well out of sight by now, but the mere thought of it wandering so close to our house excited me like no lion or cheetah could; the secretive and solitary leopard has always been my favourite, while Angie loves the more gregarious lions. The leopard probably survived by travelling by night between patches of forest, using all its guile to avoid detection. People would be none the wiser until a beloved dog or cat went missing. Leopards are notorious dog killers, and not just domestic ones, but wild canids. They also kill cheetahs, servals and wild cats.

Some years ago, at a tented camp where we were living in the Masai Mara, a leopard was seen trotting off with Esmerelda, our favourite domestic cat in its mouth. …

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