For the first time in the history of observations, researchers have managed to see the mating games of the spotted predators in the wild. A camera trap in the northern part of Land of the Leopard National Park provided scientists with unique images.
The images were taken in early spring, but were only received during a routine trail camera inspection in the summer. The photos feature the mating games of unnamed leopard, Leo 64M, and an unknown leopardess; it was impossible to identify her by her spot pattern.
Researchers know that Leo 64M is about three years old — leopards reach maturity at this age — and that he is the son of Grace the leopardess (Leo 23F).
"The behavior of females changes during the mating season: they leave markings more often, call on the males and show playful behavior when they encounter a male. Males, in turn, hear these calls and come looking for the female," said Yekaterina Blidchenko, research fellow at Land of the Leopard and a zoologist at the Tiger Centre.
Usually, leopards are engaged in mating rituals for about five days, and then they leave each other. A leopard's gestation period lasts 90 days; there are from one to three cubs in each litter. The leopardess raises her cubs alone. Before giving birth, she will find a cozy den, protected form the wind, rain and potential enemies.