Are leopards good hunters?

There is not a lot of data on the success rate of leopards hunting because they are secretive, solitary and often nocturnal to avoid humans. I am referring to the leopards of Africa. They are sometimes called ‘common leopards’.

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Estimates indicate that the leopard is not highly successful in hunting. T.N. Bailey in The African Leopard (1993) states that leopards were successful in 2 out of 13 hunting attempts (15% success rate). During the daytime it is worse at 0%. B.C.R. Bertram in Leopard ecology as studied by radio tracking (1982) stated that in the Serengeti 3 out of 64 daytime hunts observed and recorded were successful (5%). He stated that he believed that the success rate was higher at night.

G.B. Schaller in The Serengeti lion (1972) stated that he observed 9 daytime hunts out of which 1 was successful (11%). P.E. Sander and P.J. Haden in The ecology of asociality in Namibian leopards (1997) said that leopards in northeastern Namibia had a success rate of 38.1% in averaging 1 kill every 2.7 hunts.

Lastly, J. du P Bothma and E.A.N. Riche in Aspects of the ecology and behaviour of the leopard Panthera pardus in the Kalahari Desert (1984) wrote that male leopards had a kill rate of 12% (6 kills out of 74 attacks). They state that the female leopard-with-cubs kill rate was better at 23% (7 out of 25 cases). Most of the hunts involved medium sized prey while small prey items were seldom chased.

I suppose you could average these success rates and if you did the figure would be 15%.


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