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Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 9:09 am 
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Well I have always heard from even some of the trails rangers that distinguishing between leopard and lion spoor are not always so easy. And it is proved here once again.

More reasons why I have said leopard:

1. Lions are more often than not together in a pride, thus more prints could have been seen, especially at night when hunting.(Not foolproof though)

2. I don't know how DB measured the size, but looking at the tracks of vehicles next to it, I seem to think that it migh have been slightly smaller than 12cm.(Only an assumption as I don't know what vehicle trakcs it is).

3. Letaba is a great habitat for leopard. I have never seen lion at Letaba before. Was there any sightings of lion on the board at Letaba that specific time DB? And that of leopard?

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Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 9:24 am 
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wildtuinman wrote:
2. I don't know how DB measured the size, but looking at the tracks of vehicles next to it, I seem to think that it migh have been slightly smaller than 12cm.(Only an assumption as I don't know what vehicle trakcs it is).

I hung my little pair of binocs out of the car window and they measured the same length of my binocs which are just on 12cm. The widest part of the track measured the same.

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3. Letaba is a great habitat for leopard. I have never seen lion at Letaba before. Was there any sightings of lion on the board at Letaba that specific time DB? And that of leopard?

No cat sightings that I saw at all close to the camp. Also no lion roaring at night anywhere near.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 6:40 pm 
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The measurements I am using do not come from textbooks. They are actual measurements taken from animals during monitoring projects. The biggest lion measured by myself was 125mm with an average of 110mm F to 120mm M. Remember that the track that you see only represents the paw cushions which make up about 2/3 of the actual paw size. Also depending how you look at the physical paw, as lion and leopard are digitigrade posture animals (plantigrade- flat foot- Primates and unguligrade- tip toed- hoofed animals). Lion and leopard walk on the ball and toes of the foot (like all cats and dogs do). The heel cushion sits further back and is not walked on but forms part of the foot.

As far as the difference between a lion and leopard track- some rangers/ guides do battle with them as they also do with black and young white rhino but any tracker worth his or her salt will not have a problem distinguishing between the two. Another factor that can cause confusion is the substrate- soft sand and mud leaves a bigger imprint than the actual paw size…


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Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 9:41 am 
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I agree on lion.
taking in account the messurements and the 3 anterior loobs, the lack of nails that makes it a lion for me.
note that the surface is quite soft (deep imprint) so the toes will splay (going wider apart).

wildtuinman wrote:
More reasons why I have said leopard:

1. Lions are more often than not together in a pride, thus more prints could have been seen, especially at night when hunting.(Not foolproof though)

this is truly not foolproof. one time I followed one lionspoor on a durt road. i was so lucky to find the lion and 10 more members of the pride.

Image

as sayd by others a leopard spoorprint wont be so large.
A big male lion spoor I once messured was approx 15cm.
so this could easely be a liones.

Image

surely no canine. they have 2 anterior loobs, whyl the big cats have 3 loobs.
no hyena, whyl they have kidney-shaped toes with nail, two loobs with one larger than the other.
it seems if the spoor is squeezed and not straight anneymore.
see this photo.
Image

so my humble opinion it is lion.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 10:08 am 
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Well I still don't agree with lion and still think that it is most definite a leopard.

Check out this site on spoor. Leopard's spoor are estimated here as up to 12cm. The resident male at Letaba is a huge cat. I have seen him once 6m away. As a matter of a fact it was the biggest leopard I have ever seen in Kruger.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 11:23 am 
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I agree with WTM

My agreement has nothing to do with size. Size is a rough guide only. I will bet you that I can find examples of Leopard Spoor at 15cm

Look at the back of DB's track. The heel has curves, well defined ones. Look at a Lion Spoor, those curves are not as well defined. In a Leopard spoor they are. This is something I only noticed when WTM made his comment.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 8:54 pm 
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Pilane, you still didn't give us your decision on what it is. If you say Lion that's ok, but pls tell us how you know without citing size. Who says Dinky measured correctly in any case?

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Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 9:50 pm 
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Its a lion spoor...

1. The leopards far right and left toes are much further right and left of the actual pad.

2. The actual pad of the lion is much more rounder than a leopards pad, and in the pic this can be seen..

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Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 11:14 pm 
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Said already that is was a lion.
Graig basically gave a good description. The toe pads of a leopard are also rounder. The rear track is too far from the front for a leopard. (By the way which one is the rear track?) A leopard's rear track often touch the front.

Another important point when you are not sure is to look around. You might find feaces, scrape marks or maybe a place where it lied down. There you can look for hair giving the animals identity away. In this case one lion could have been walking in the road and the others in the veld next to the road or the rest could have crossed the road way back and this boy is lagging behind or, maybe he was alone..
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Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2005 6:42 am 
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Pilane wrote:
Quote:
Check out this site on spoor. Leopard's spoor are estimated here as up to 12cm.


Where? front just under 100mm on this site
Rear just over 100mm acceptable


leopard
Image
Image

lion
Image
Image

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Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2005 6:46 am 
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Pilane wrote:
Another important point when you are not sure is to look around. You might find feaces, scrape marks or maybe a place where it lied down. There you can look for hair giving the animals identity away. In this case one lion could have been walking in the road and the others in the veld next to the road or the rest could have crossed the road way back and this boy is lagging behind or, maybe he was alone..
Tracking takes practice, practice and more practice


I agree! tracking is often more than just spoor id only. That is why I said leopard. Letaba being leopard country and I have never seen lion there before. :D

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Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2005 8:06 am 
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Pilane wrote:
Said already that is was a lion.

Apologies, I must have missed it :redface:
After looking, and relooking and re reading and looking again, I am also leaning back towards my original decision of Lion. The "big" toe on the spoor is very much to the side of the track. What is still throwing me is the fact that the toes are very rounded, and Lions toes aren't. But I suppose in nature there are no hard and fast rules
Lion
Image

Actual spoor
Image

Leopard
Image

WTM, you never seen Lion at Satara? I have never not seen them there!!!!

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Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 12:44 am 
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I haven't been on the forum very long, but so far I find this the most interesting discussion!

As for the tracks, I agree with the 'lion-people'. First of all because I don't want to doubt the experience of a tracker level 3 ! :wink: The other reason is the right track on the picture, the front foot of the lion. The outer toe (the top one in the picture) is more or less behind the other 3 toes (look at the shadows). The toes of a leopard front foot form more of a half circle; inner and outer toe are more or less on the same line.
And lions do occur around Letaba. Saw a pride of 18 lions in 1997 at Nhlanganini WH and two big males on S47 in 1999.

@Pilane
Track at the top: helmeted guineafowl ???
Track left of left foot: the one touching the toes of the left foot also looks like a bird to me: sandgrouse ???

No idea about the signs of sunset :cry:


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Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 6:17 am 
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Arie wrote:
I haven't been on the forum very long, but so far I find this the most interesting discussion!


I agree!

Arie wrote:
And lions do occur around Letaba. Saw a pride of 18 lions in 1997 at Nhlanganini WH and two big males on S47 in 1999.


I don't say they didn't. All I say is that chances are better of finding leopard there than lion. I have seen 3 leopards there and not a single lion.

Arie wrote:
No idea about the signs of sunset :cry:

It is because there are prints of birds over the car tracks. Birds aren't active at night.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 9:27 pm 
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Quote:
It is because there are prints of birds over the car tracks. Birds aren't active at night.


Nope. Look at the pieces of grass on the track. You always have a light just breeze after sunset due to cooling of the enviroment (hot rising air) and small dry grass pieces etc. ends up on top of tracks.


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