It is now the third morning in a row that a leopard has been calling over and over around the house any time from 3am through to daybreak. On day 1 it was still calling at 7am very close to where we were walking, and we decided that we should discontinue the walk until later in the morning. But why was it calling so often and for such extended periods?
Leopards are predominantly solitary, only seen together when a female is in oestrus and a male joins her to mate, or when a female has cubs. Both sexes have territories, those of the males generally overlapping with three or four female territories. These areas are regularly marked with urine and faeces as well as by calling. The typical territorial call is a rasping sound that sounds something like someone sawing a plank of wood. This helps to keep other leopards away and advertises to males that the female in is oestrus.
The actual leopard population on our 1100 ha home estate is not known and we wonder how many males live here and how easy it is for other males to make their way under the electric fence that encompasses the whole area.
I am therefore guessing that “our” female was wandering all over her territory hoping to attract a mate by calling at such regular intervals but without much success. Listen to her song below.
Leopard female in oestrus
Lions, like most members of the cat family, vocalise when exhaling just as we do. What is most interesting is that the leopard calls both when exhaling and inhaling and this created the backwards and forwards sawing sound. The oestrus female above on the other hand has modified her call a bit and the full back and forward sawing is not as audible. This recording was made on day three and we wonder if she has become tired and not putting the same effort into her call. So much to learn.
Listen below to the differences to both lion and leopard calls and compare again with the leopard above.