Indochinese Leopard (Panthera pardus delacouri)

26 Jul 2013 11:01 - 26 Jul 2013 17:47 #1169 by Bagheera
Decided to spend a few days down at Kaeng Krachan before it shuts next week for the rainy season, we had a great time including one of the most amazing leopard experiences of my life. This male allowed us to view him for about 20mins whilst he slinked in and out of the undergrowth curiously looking at my parked car..

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A truly unforgetable trip and I am truly thankful that we were this lucky to see this gorgeous feline alive and well in its natural environment.
I really never thought I would ever see, let alone photograph the leopard in Thailand. It just goes to show there is no replacement for time spent in the forest and most of all luck!!
The following user(s) said Thank You: WT admin, Jos-

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26 Jul 2013 11:10 #1170 by WT admin
Wow, Wow and Wow! What an incredible sighting, what an incredible picture, second shot is the best leopard pic I have seen from Thailand - well done!!! Am well chuffed for you.

Here I was planning a year in KK to get a leopard pic as well. No need now, you have nailed it there Luke. Incredible!

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26 Jul 2013 16:07 #1171 by Jos-
Amazing! Extremely rare sight! Congrats! According to my understanding the number of big cats has decreased significantly within few years due to poaching in KK. Was this taken along the main road? How long will the park be closed?

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26 Jul 2013 17:58 #1172 by Bagheera
admin ; thankyou for the compliments, they mean a lot coming from a fellow photographer. As I took the photos I was was aware of the rarity of the occasion and I was fearful something was wrong with the camera or settings. Inbetween the leopard going in and out of the bushes I was frantically checking each time to make sure the shots had come out! I will probably never get an opportunity like this again..

Jos ; Thanks again! According to my understanding, some professionals in the field, and the rangers at KK, the leopard population is doing OK. I am led to believe it is in fact the Tigers numbers which have dropped significantly in recent years at KK.
Yes the photo was taken along the road, if the leopard was anywhere other than the main road I vary much doubt me or anyone would be able to spot him!
The park is closed 1st August to 31st October

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26 Jul 2013 18:34 - 27 Jul 2013 14:52 #1173 by Bagheera
The afternoon began rather slowly, after walking the trails around the Baan Krang Ranger station all morning I had had a substantial lunch and was rather sleepy when I started the drive up to Panern Tung . A pretty uneventful drive up I made it to the summit and the weather was atrocious, driving rain and inpenetrable clouds meant we couldnt see anything and to be quite honest did'nt even want to leave the car. It was only 3pm though and so we had an hour to kill before we could begin the descent back down. So I thought lets drive down to the Thor Tip waterfall carpark just to see if we can see anything on the way and to kill some time.
The weather was so bad I had to have the windows up, however just as we approached the KM36 marker and rounded a right hand corner there in the road were 2 Southern Serow, by the look of it a mother and calf but before I could even get the camera in my hand let alone take a shot the pesky things scampered off the road and over a seemingly vertical edge. I confess I didn't know what they were immediately and had to confide in my Mammals of Thailand Handbook for a correct identification.

With some newfound optimism in me after at least seeing something living we wandered on back up to Panern tung not long after 4 o clock. After chewing the fat with the rangers up there for 10 mins I decided to go back down, the weather was still horrendous at this point and sure enough about 20 mins into the drive back there was a big tree gone down right across the trail. Now I knew we were the last truck so there was no one behind us who might be able to help/advise us on what to do. So we u-turned ( just about managed it as the track was pretty narrow) and went back to Panern Tung to summon up the lads and their chainsaw. After they nourished the machine back to working order, they informed me that their motorbike was broken so I would have to run them back to Panern Tung again after they had finished removing the tree. " No problem" I said but lets get moving as I am going to be pretty late getting back by this stage.
So we get to the blockage, they have it down and removed in about 20 mins. I run them back to the station again and begin what I hope to be the last drama of the day as it is 5.30pm, its really dark and I dont know if there are any more trees further on. No such dramas and we continue on..

Shortly before 6pm, and just as the rain has started to ease we round a steep left hand bend and there 60-70 metres in front of us is a Indochinese Leopard. I quickly turn the engine off and " shssshhh" my girlfriend. It is lying on the road and notices us, he then gets up and heads for the undergrowth before popping its head out on multiple occasions to check on the strangers on his turf. The leopard then starts to move towards us as if checking us out all thew while going in and out of view as he skirts the fringes of visibility. I manage to fire of some shots out of the window but I am hideously contorted round the frame of the car trying to get the right angle, luckily it seems a few have come out. We stay for 20-25 mins before he finally leaps down the cliffside leaving us completely speechless and flabbergasted at what we have just witnessed/experienced.
It was then a surreal drive back down to Baan Krang and on and out of the park by 7pm.
A truly unforgettable time and more than the photos will ever mean to me is the knowledge that this most beautiful, majestic cat survives and continues to exist despite many factors in the jungles here in Thailand. I slept very well that night!

Some more shots of him..

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27 Jul 2013 14:55 #1176 by WT admin
Simply amazing. If I ever have an experience half of yours I will be a very happy man.

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28 Jul 2013 23:31 #1179 by onflipflops
Replied by onflipflops on topic Indochinese Leopard (Panthera pardus delacouri)
Absolutely amazing pictures! As Paul said, these are some of the best pics I've seen of a wild Leopard in Thailand.
I've got some reasonable shots from Africa, but Africa is for beginners. Thailand is the real thing! Thick jungle with low numbers of magnificent elusive large cats. Just to see one is so incredibly special, to return home with these pictures... impossible!

Thanks for sharing!

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30 Jul 2013 06:47 #1180 by Painted Jezebel
Replied by Painted Jezebel on topic Indochinese Leopard (Panthera pardus delacouri)
Truely awesome photos. Thank you very much. I concentrate on arthropods, and usually make too much noise crashing through the undergrowth to see mammals and also my time of activity is during the heat of the day, so it is always a delight to see these. I am very jealous!

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31 Jul 2013 12:01 #1181 by Bagheera
Thanks again for the compliments guys!
They are much appreciated.
Do any of you have any estimates as to his age? I have only ever seen African and Indian leopards so its difficult to gauge this fella but I was thinking 2-3 years.. whaddya reckon?

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02 Aug 2013 12:18 #1185 by onflipflops
Replied by onflipflops on topic Indochinese Leopard (Panthera pardus delacouri)
I'm no expert on Leopards, and have zero experience with Asian specimens. But judging from its face, size (though I guess in Indochinese Leopards the size is probably not as large as in Africa) and the lack of scars it does appear to be a relatively young specimen. I would guess your estimation of 2 - 3 years would not be far off.

I've seen some old guys in Africa that probably had to deal with a lot more competition than might be the case in the Asian forests but they actually looked terrible, haha. Once, I was looking at one resting up in a tree in Kruger that had lost one ear. While waiting for it to 'wake up' and leave the tree, all of a sudden at the other side of the river, an even bigger male showed up that had lost an eye, but still appeared to be well-fed. It was the biggest leopard I have ever seen. And with only one eye also one of the scariests...

IMO the beauty you photographed is just too perfect to be much older than 2 - 3 years, but I might be wrong...

All the best!

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