Leopards are stealthy and hard to spot in the wild. “The perfect predator” is how Johnathan Scott, an expert on the big cats of Africa, describes the leopard. The leopard was so good at hiding that big game hunters were upset! One big game hunter with a name one expects, Colonel Blashford, said, “The tiger is a gentleman, but the leopard is a bounder.”
This large wild cat, the fifth largest, is cunningly intelligent, wily and said to be able to hold a grudge. Dr. Desmond Morris recites the story of a maltreated leopard in Kenya in his book on the leopard (ISBN 978-1-78023-279-9).
A female leopard had been preying on livestock. The villagers wanted her caught and relocated far away from human settlements. The rangers managed to trap her and she was transported in a cage on a lorry (a truck). They arrived at the designed location. They opened the cage and protected themselves by waiting in the cab of the truck.
The leopard preferred to stay in the cage probably because it was a secure, familiar place in a strange location. She refused to budge. The ranger leaned out of the cab and banged on the cage with a stick to force her to vacate it. No luck. She snarled but refused to move.
The ranger then jabbed at the leopard with a pointed stick through the cage bars. The leopard roared in annoyance and grabbed the stick in her jaws to try and pull it out of the ranger’s hands. The ranger gave up at which point the leopard calmly got up and sauntered off the truck. She then prowled around to the truck’s cab and leapt through the half-open window.
The ranger panicked and in trying to close the window actually opened it further. The leopard leaped into the cab and attacked the ranger’s head and chest repeatedly; clawing him viscously.
This female leopard had made a calculated attack on the ranger as opposed to acting in defence. Eventually, and badly injured, the ranger managed to force the leopard out of the cab with his boots – he kicked her out of the cab.
The leopard ran off. The man survived with 21 stitches and lifelong scares as evidence of his lucky escape.
The leopard is a thoughtful predator. Dr Morris writes that she was capable of “settling a personal score”. He sees them as being as brainy as chimpanzees and orag-utans.