Cheetahs vs leopards in Africa. Do you know the difference between cheetahs and leopards, as seen in the wilderness on Africa safaris? Often times, cheetahs and leopards are mistaken for the other. Both cheetahs and leopards are big cats, but are very much different with a number of distinct differences.
Cheetahs are easily identified by their black tear-like line that runs down their face; this line runs from the inside side of the eye down towards the mouth. It is believed that these tear-like lines help reflect the glare of the sun whilst hunting in the heat of the sun in the day; it is, however, a myth! Leopards do not have this tear-like line.
The most common difference between cheetahs vs leopards in Africa and beyond is that the two cats have different coat patterns. While at first glance it may look to the eye that both cheetahs and leopards have spots, yet in fact leopards have rosettes which are rose-like markings, while cheetahs have solid round or oval shape.
Cheetahs prefer hunting during the day; leopards prefer and indeed hunt usually in the night, notwithstanding that they too can hunt in the day should the opportunity be made available. Leopards have a higher number of light-sensitive cells in their eyes that detect colour but allow them detect any firm of movement and shape easily in the dark, giving him the advantage thus them hunting most in the night.
Cheetahs are the fastest land animals in the world, reaching a speed of up to 120km/h with the ability of accelerating from 0-103 km/h in just 3 seconds! When chasing down prey at the top speed, cheetahs can use their long tails to counterbalance themselves doing which gives them the ability to easily change direction very quickly whilst on a hunt.
Leopards on the other hand reach a top speed of about 58km/h. While they may lack speed compared to cheetahs, they make up for it with other abilities like having retractable claws which enable them be amazing climbers. Leopards are also good swimmers!
Another difference between cheetahs and leopards is that while leopards which are rhe shortest of the big cats are strong and bulky that they are strong enough to pull their dead prey up trees just to protect their kill, cheetahs on the other hand are much lighter and taller, contributing to their great ability of running as quickly as possible. In the wilderness say in the savanna plains of the Serengeti Park Tanzania, leopards do chase off any cheetah trying to approach their territory.
Leopards do not have a static gestation period; yes, the gestation period of leopards is 90 to 105 days. Female leopards usually give birth to 2 cubs per birth, but the number can be up to 6 cubs. At birth, cubs have a dull grey coat and not the distinctive rose-like spots as the adults. Cheetahs on the other hand have a gestation period of 90 to 98 days and usually give birth to 3-4 cubs. Both leopards and cheetah cubs are born totally blind, up until after about 10 days.
In regards to habitat, cheetahs and leopards have different habitats. While cheetahs are primarily found in open grasslands, savanna and deserts, while leopards are more versatile and can live just about anywhere including in forests, mountains as well as grasslands.
What are the best countries to see cheetahs and leopards on Africa safaris?
Looking to encounter cheetahs and leopards in their natural habitat? Then an Africa safari is what you should look to embark on. Some of the best countries to see cheetahs and leopards in the wild include Tanzania in Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area in particular, Kenya in especially Masai Mara National Reserve and Laikipia Plateau, Uganda in Queen Elizabeth National Park, as well as Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and Zambia.
Get in touch with a reputable tour operator to help pitch an amazing wildlife safari for a chance to see the cheetahs and leopards in the wild.