How to save a leopard: cats are smarter than you think

In June of this year, some of the world’s foremost wildlife experts descended on Sri Lanka for the Colombo Roundtable, a gathering of NGOs that addresses issues concerning Asia’s National Parks. But this year,…

How to save a leopard: cats are smarter than you think

In June of this year, some of the world’s foremost wildlife experts descended on Sri Lanka for the Colombo Roundtable, a gathering of NGOs that addresses issues concerning Asia’s National Parks.

But this year, elephant tranquillizer dart guns weren’t the only items on the agenda. The meeting of some 75 experts and activists also focused on the issue of how to save a mere one of Sri Lanka’s 31 leopard species, and save it by the end of this year.

While cats are often stereotyped as ferocious and vengeful, scientists discovered several decades ago that they are savvy and even charitable.

For example, a 1974 survey of 48 leopards found that 10 percent of them frequently climbed or leaped over objects like cars. Some leopards get more than 50 percent of their calories from fruits and nuts, and prey on lesser-known creatures like mice, antelope and water rats. Some leopards kill at least one deer every three days, and their bodies are extremely fatty and healthy — making them ideal prey for domesticated cats.

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