Africa, Tanzania; some other cats

A quick look at the cats, other than lions, that we saw last month. There were sightings of Leopard, Cheetah, and Serval in addition to the ubiquitous lion – see previous posts. Leopards are always a bit iffy and when they are seen they are to be appreciated. Sometimes, rarely, they are cooperative and simply loll about in front of your vehicle but as a primarily nocturnal animal they are not always easy to locate during the day. Generally they are in a tree often only partially visible and equally often asleep and unmoving. Cheetah are solitary and thin. That means a Cheetah lying in the grass can be very hard to see. The best part with Cheetahs is that they are diurnal and are out and about in the daylight. The Serval is a small, Bobcat size, cat that is not uncommon, merely hard to locate and secretive. Smallish animals are often shy as self-preservation is the key to biological success. There are also cats called African Wildcat, a house-cat sized gray tiger tabby which are quite rarely seen. Again, they are not too uncommon but they are small and secretive.

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Much of the great grassland called Serengeti consists of short grasses, other places have taller grass and there are wooded savannas as well. Cheetahs mostly like the short grass areas. They can see prey and run easily. They also seem to like the great views.
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Occasionally they cheetah will find a shrubby spot to rest or to hide young or perhaps to digest. they area smallish sort of cat, rarely weighing more than 125 pounds. So they need to eat while hunkered down and rest out of sight.

The cats of East Africa, pretty much worldwide actually, are all threatened by disease, poaching, and habitat loss. Leopards are pretty widespread with a range that encompasses pretty much all of Africa excepting large desert regions. The prey sought by Leopards is so varied they can survive most anywhere. Lions and Cheetah need grasses, grazers, and some cover. Serval are often in areas with thick brush or coarse grasses.

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The images above and below are of the same tree and the same leopard. This is a rather usual sighting. Resting, motionless, in a tree. That is a leopard during the day time. In the evening and at night they are quite mobile and cover a reasonable amount of territory. 
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They are known to use the same area and the same trees over and over. This helps your driver/guides locate them. It isn’t really a shot in the dark but good luck is important in leopard spotting. Sometimes you see the carcass of a prey animal in a tree which provides a clue as to the whereabouts of a leopard.
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The Serval is a smallish cat of coarsly vegetated ground. They are hunters of small mammals (mostly rodents) and occasionally birds. The large ears are important to rodent hunting as the prey are often heard well before being seen.
TZ 2017 serval
Serval are heavy at 38 pounds and can be as light as 20 pounds. They have a shortish tail and are long-legged and rather slender. I most often see then in shrubby savanna and areas with coarse vegetation. 

3 thoughts on “Africa, Tanzania; some other cats

  1. Fascinating pictures. Very much enjoyed them. Took me back to South Africa trip and animals seen on safari. Am working on oil painting from my photo of a zebra. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

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