While not exactly a Waterhole Wednesday, I thought I would share some news about the two leopards that will soon be relocated from South Africa to the wildlife reserve we live on here in Malawi. They were supposed to be here this past Friday and the girls and I have been busy learning about leopards while my husband prepares for their arrival. Unfortunately they have been delayed by a hold up with their release permits and will now be arriving this coming Friday. I’m a little annoyed about that because we had big plans for this weekend. There is a rugby tournament in Blantyre on Saturday that a friend will be playing in and it will have a fair like atmosphere with lots of fun stuff (like a bouncy castle) for the littles and then Sunday is a Christmas Craft Fair just east of town in one of the tea growing regions. While these may not sound as exciting as a leopard relocation, this is the third pair of leopards that have come in the last year and we don’t get out much so I was really looking forward to these events. Now we will be stuck here in this hot valley making sure the leopards are acclimating well. I know they are worth it but it would have been nice if they could have arrived on time and not disrupted my plans.
The littles are really excited about having leopards in the bomas (holding areas) again because we will be able to visit them regularly. Once they are released they are almost impossible to see. We’ve been busy making leopard crafts to build up to their arrival just like we did with the lions. We made some leopard masks out of paper plates, paint, craft sticks, construction paper, paste and duct tape. The littles painted their plates and then had fun “hitting” the plate with their brushes dipped in black paint to make the spots.
While the paint was drying I cut out all the other pieces and drew the mouth. The girls got some practice in following directions as I gave them instructions about what piece to paste where. I then duct taped a craft stick on the back and we have been spending a lot of time growling at each other while wearing these masks.
We also made some handprint leopards. We used our handprint for the body and added a tail and spots with our fingers. Once they were dry we added some details like faces and paws with black marker. One really nice thing about painting leopards is that, even if you aren’t Picasso, the spots do a lot to help admirers know what you are trying to portray.
We also printed these cool leopard coloring pages from Color-Your-Own.com and had fun coloring them in.
If you want a more involved and messy (but still really simple) leopard project, take a look at these instructions to make your own leopard pinata. We made this one for Kook’s safari birthday party and it was a big hit (no pun intended)!
Some fun facts about leopards (from The Mammals of the Southern Africa Subregion by JD Skinner and RHN Smithers):
- A leopard’s spots are called rosettes and each leopard has their own unique pattern.
- Leopard cubs typically make their first kill at around eleven months old and can leave their mother anytime after a year. Siblings will often stay together for another two to three months before becoming independent.
- When a mother leopard is leading her cubs she keeps her tail curved up showing its white underside – this may be to help guide the cubs through tall grass.