About the Author

James Tyrrell

Photographic Guide/Media Team

James had hardly touched a camera when he came to Londolozi, but his writing skills that complemented his Honours degree in Zoology meant that he was quickly snapped up by the Londolozi blog team. An environment rich in photographers helped him develop the ...

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5 Comments

on How Do the Big Cats Give Birth?

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Marinda Drake
Master Tracker

You are probably correct James. With humans you feel that you just feel at a certain time that you must get everything together even if it is still a few days before the birth. I would think that leopards know aswell and move to a den sight. It is realy the most natural process.

Denise Vouri
Guest contributor

Well as it’s said, the KISS theory is usually the right one. As long as there aren’t two females due at the same time who have chosen the same den, all is good. Who knows how labor proceeds in big cats since they can’t vocalize their feelings, but I suspect scientists who have observed those in captivity have somewhat of an idea. At any rate, since you mention that dens are available throughout Londolozi, perhaps the closest one is the best choice, no matter what for immediate safety reasons. Another thought provoking tome!!

Joanne Wadsworth Kelley
Digital Tracker

I’m sure there is an instinctive trigger that occurs as well as a possible hormonal reaction when labor is somewhat imminent. Since leopard tend not to travel distances, I’m sure they are aware of den availability or perhaps one they’ve used before. My greatest concern is, that despite the odds, leopard Cubs live to independence.

Darlene Knott
Digital Tracker

It is so interesting to try to get inside the minds of a wild animal. The leopard being my favorite animal, I really enjoyed this. There are no clear cut answers, but it seems to me that the small territory makes it easier for the leopard to find a denning spot, but also easier for the make leopards or lions to know where the leopard cubs are usually stashed by the mama. It would be interesting to know the success rates the leopards have in raising their young in small territories compared to larger territories. Thanks for stimulating my brain cells this morning! ?

Absolutely brilliant post. Beautiful to read. What it made me wonder amounted to another layer of inquiry. You have demonstrated that there are behaviors driven by instinct and likely, also by a leopard’s biochemistry (and the biochemistry of its unborn young).
Environment /habitat is also a factor, if I am reading you correctly. So..what additional impact, if any, does the particular leopard’s PERSONALITY have. Do we see them as each having personal character attributes that are not just pre-programmed by instinct? If we do, how much does such individuality have to do with the approach taken by a particular leopard to activities like denning before delivery, raising cubs, etc??
Maybe the answer is …. nothing, probably. But you certainly got me thinking, James.

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