Like in humans and other animals (such as zebras and elephants), leopards have distinct features that tell them apart from one another and aid in leopard identification. Rosette patterns to leopards are like fingerprints to humans. This important identification characteristic allows the Leopard Survey team to identify unique individuals and generate leopard identification kits that are used by Panthera to calculate population density estimates for the wildlife reserves.
There is no set rule on how to identify a leopard, but researchers must rather trust their eye in a scientific game of spot-the-difference. Rosettes come in a variety of shapes, sizes and formations and learning how to identify and isolate these patterns for comparison against other coats, is a leopard identification skill that takes some practice!
Have a look at some of these big cats and their beautiful coats and rosette patterns.
Wildlife ACT, Panthera and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife provide volunteers with the unique opportunity to capture leopards and many other animal species on camera in reserves across northern KwaZulu-Natal. The leopard is a graceful animal with an elongated muscular body and relatively short legs. Males and females differ only in weight with male leopards reaching 90kg and females weighing up to 60kg.
Find out more about how you can volunteer with leopards and take part in this unique project in South Africa. This leopard is one of the largest of its kind in the world.
All Photos Property of Panthera
Text by Leopard Survey Monitor Kaylee van Heerden