Interspecies Conflict/Leopard

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Question
Hi BK here are some leopard questions.

1. Lets say Leopards hunted in prides like lions do with the same type of experience and the same numbers would they be able to hunt the following animals?

Cape Buffalo

American Bison

Gaur

Giant Eland

Walrus

Elephant seal

2. 3 Leopards vs Grizzly bear?

3. If leopards lived in north America what do you think they'll hunt?

4.Leopard vs Wildebeest- I think the leopard wins here, maybe not easily but I believe the leopard walks away with a kill here.

5. Leopard vs Gray wolf

thanks

Answer
Hello Gian.


Q: Let's say Leopards hunted in prides like lions do with the same type of experience and the same numbers would they be able to hunt the following animals?
A: A leopard is only about 1/3 the size of a lion, so a pride of leopards won't have as much success as a pride of lions when large prey items are considered.

Cape Buffalo: A Cape buffalo can weigh almost 8 times as much as a large leopard.  When lions work as a team to overpower a large animal, several of them will usually try to use their weight to drag the animal down while one gets into a position to land a killing bite (usually on the throat, neck, or snout).  The leopards will need to do this as well.  It is a challenge for a leopard to asphyxiate a wildebeest or a zebra with a throat bite, and doing this with a 680kg Cape buffalo will be extremely difficult.  This will be similar to a pride of lions trying to tackle a bull giraffe (which is a rare feat).  Adult Cape buffalo will probably be off the menu for the leopards, but young ones may be targeted.

American Bison: An American bison can weigh 11 times as much as a large leopard.  It is a sturdy, stocky bovid with a muscular body.  The bison will be too large for the leopards to tackle.  This will be like a pride of lions trying to take down a large rhinoceros (almost impossible if the rhino is a healthy adult).  A bison can easily kill a leopard with its horns or hooves.  Only young bison will be targeted.

Gaur: A large bull gaur can weigh 15 times as much as a large leopard.  For the same reasons mentioned with the Cape buffalo and the bison, this giant bovid is off the menu.  A bull gaur can make a Bengal tiger back away, and the Bengal tiger can weigh over 3 times as much as a leopard.  Even if the leopards attack at once, they will have trouble forcing the gaur to the ground, and will likely receive many injuries in the attempt.  A throat bite from a 90kg leopard is not going to have much effect on a 1 1/2 ton gaur.  

Giant Eland: A giant eland can weigh over 10 times as much as a large leopard.  Eland have reportedly fallen prey to leopards on occasion, but it's hard to imagine a full-grown one becoming a victim without the presence of special circumstances.  The power of an eland is impressive, and even a group of leopards working together will have a tough time succeeding against a healthy bull.  The method hyenas and wolves use to overpower large prey items is actually more effective than what a pride of leopards would employ because they can divide the victim's focus while wearing it down with bites.  The leopards will have to pile on and hope they can control the prey item's movements long enough for one of them to get into position to land a finishing throat bite.  Cats are superior one-on-one hunters, though, and lions have great success due to their numbers, individual size, and power.  I won't rule out the giant eland as a target for a leopard pride, but as long as wildebeest and zebra are around, the giant eland will largely be ignored.

Walrus: A walrus can weigh 20 times as much as a large leopard.  A walrus has thick skin that offers great protection from attack.  Even the powerful polar bear has great difficulty clawing through this tough hide.  Even though the leopards would be quick enough to avoid the tusks or the crushing weight of the walrus, they won't make much headway when trying to use their teeth and claws to subdue the pinniped.  They might eventually get through if the walrus stays in one place, but it won't.  The walrus will lumber toward the water as soon as the leopards approach, and will have the strength to drag all of them into the water if they insist on clinging to it.  The walrus' proximity to the water will keep it relatively safe from a group of leopards.

Elephant seal: An elephant seal can weigh 40 times as much as a large leopard.  Its hide isn't as difficult to breach as a walrus', but its tremendous size will give it all the protection it needs.  The leopards will need to be wary of the elephant seal's bite and ability to throw its weight around in short spurts, but they will not have the ability to control any of the enormous pinniped's movements.  If the leopards try to bite and claw the elephant seal, it can drag them all into the water just like the walrus can.  As with the walrus, the only chance the leopards will have is if the elephant seal doesn't move and allows the cats to attack it.  The elephant seal will be off the menu.

3 Leopards vs Grizzly bear: A grizzly bear can weigh 5 times as much as a large leopard.  Leopards are successful hunters of many large animals (wildebeest, topi, warthogs, etc.), but they don't usually encounter any prey items that can fight back as well as a bear can.  A 450kg grizzly bear will have tremendous strength and stamina, and its claws and teeth can be savage weapons.  It can be a very aggressive, combative animal.  The grizzly bear's coarse fur offers some protection from attack as well.  The 3 leopards won't have the collective strength to alter the bear's movements to any measurable degree, and an attempted throat-bite on the ursid will put the attacking leopard right in range of the bear's long (10cm) claws.  A grizzly bear would be a challenge for 3 jaguars as well.  Grizzly bear wins.

Q: If leopards lived in North America what do you think they'll hunt?
A: Being used to the hot climate of southern Africa, the leopard will likely settle in the southern United States and Mexico in areas where many trees are present.  White-tailed deer will be a common prey target for the leopard.  In the Southeastern United States there will be wild boar available, and in the Southwest there may be areas with elk for the leopard to hunt.  Monkeys will be available in Mexico.  Numerous rodents (beavers, porcupines, squirrels, etc.), reptiles, and birds will also be taken if the opportunity arises.

Leopard vs Wildebeest: A wildebeest can weigh over 3 times as much as a leopard. Leopards prey upon wildebeests from time-to-time, but ambushing one is different than taking on one face-to-face.  A leopard is one of the strongest cats pound-for-pound, and demonstrates this strength by dragging large prey items high into trees (to keep the kill safe from lions & hyenas).  Its head is large, and its neck and shoulder muscles are rather pronounced.  A wildebeest is a common prey target for a variety of predators (lions, leopards, hyenas, African wild dogs, crocodiles), but it is no pushover.  Although it is a swift runner first and foremost, it can defend itself well with its horns.  In most realistic encounters the wildebeest will be able to drive the leopard away, but it will find it difficult to repel one determined to stick around and continue trying.  Once a leopard is able to clear the horns of the wildebeest and leap upon it, the wildebeest will not have an easy way to shake it off.  The claws of the leopard will enable it to maintain a good grip, and it can move into position to land a finishing bite to the throat of the herbivore.  A leopard won't have much luck taking on the wildebeest head-on, but after using its agility to avoid most of the antelope's charges, it should be able to find an opening to spring forward and latch onto it.  A big male leopard determined to make the kill should be able to more times than not, but it's a risky endeavor, and the cat will certainly fail on occasion.  Edge to leopard.

Leopard vs Gray wolf: Male African leopards are usually heavier than gray wolves (by about 50%).  A large gray wolf won't typically exceed 59kg (and averages between 45-50kg), and an African leopard usually peaks at 91kg (and averages about 65-70kg).  Gray wolves are excellent pack hunters, and most confrontations with other animals involve more than just one member.  Wolves are capable one-on-one combatants, but they aren't as comfortable doing so as they are working as a group.  These canids have better endurance than big cats, but they aren't as well-armed.  Wolves have strong jaws & sharp teeth (some for holding, some for shearing, some for crushing), but don't have any other weapons to fight with.  Leopards are solo hunters, and are very strong animals.  These cats drag their kills into trees to keep them safe from lions & hyenas, and this action requires a lot of strength.  The leopard occasionally battles other animals (hyenas, baboons, African wild dogs, etc.) without help, and has sharp claws (as well as jaws) to use in a conflict.  A leopard is very agile, and would be able to quickly secure a wolf with its paws and force it to the ground if the wolf got close enough.  Even if the wolf latched onto the leopard with its jaws, the leopard would be able to use its claws to counter-attack with great effect.  2 gray wolves might be a decent match for a leopard, but one gray wolf won't have the ability to defeat one.  Leopard wins.


Good leopard questions!


Best regards.

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BK

Expertise

Questions regarding animal conflicts within realistic or unrealistic settings are welcome; my strength lies in medium-to-large species. Small animals (including birds of prey), prehistoric animals, sea creatures, and domestic dog breeds are usually within my scope, but to a lesser degree. I can't confidently answer hypothetical questions about human vs animal, arachnids, insects, or amphibians, but I am willing to field them nonetheless.

Experience

From a young age, I have been interested in animals. Starting with the original Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and World Book Encyclopedias, I have seen many animal shows and documentaries and have read multiple books on the subject. I have a solid understanding of the physiology of many animals and interspecies conflict in general.

Education/Credentials
Associate degree in unrelated field; biology classes in college.

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