Belonging to felidae family, cheetah and leopard are two furious cats that you will meet during your Tanzania Safari Tours in the national parks of the country. These 2 iconic species of cats’ family are furious, deadly hunters and the most dangerous predators of African Bushes after lions.

Usually people gets confused between cheetah and leopard as they both have lots of similarity. So here are few points that will help you identifying leopard and cheetah while visiting the National Parks of Tanzania.


Difference in Their Body Construction

These cats have some iconic differences in their body constructions. While going for a Tanzania Safari it’s better to know their basic difference of body construction. Here are some obvious and not-so-obvious differences;

Facial marking
Leopard and cheetah have a prime difference in their face. Cheetahs have a deep and visible tear mark running down from their corner of eyes up to the mouth while leopards don’t have any such mark. The tear marks of cheetahs act as a sunrays reflection absorber during their hunting activity during daytime.

Cheetahs are taller and slender in comparison to Leopards and both of them have a significant weight difference. As being a fastest runner cheetahs bodies are more streamlined. Where an adult leopard weighs around 60-70kg an adult male cheetah will weighs only about 54-56kg. Small head, long legs, slender body, exposed shoulder blades, pumped chest and thin stomach this is what describes a cheetah while leopards muscular and more stronger than cheetahs.

There are many differences between both these cats and claws are one of the important difference. However watching them closely can make it clear about their claws. While leopard’s claws are retractable claws like other big cats cheetahs are have non retractable claws. Cheetah’s claws helps them better chasing their prey.  Leopards use their claws only when hunting, tree climbing, or fighting with other territorial predators. Cheetahs have really sharp nails on their claws.

The tails of cheetah is more flat in comparison to leopards. Cheetah’s tail is almost like a rudder that helps to steer his body to move while it runs in higher speed. A leopard’s tail is more in a tubular in shape and it helps in balancing their body while hoisting carcasses and climbing trees.


The Difference between the Textures of the Spot

Cheetahs and Leopards have different coats. While it seems like somewhat same but both the cats have different types of spots. While cheetahs have spots leopards have rosettes. The spots of cheetahs are very clear black spots that are single and placed in a good difference from each other. Leopards however have smaller and imbalanced spots jumbled up in groups.


Hunting Tactics

Both the cats have different hunting techniques. While on your Tanzania Safari Tours if you are lucky enough you can watch both these cats in action as one is day hunter and one is only active at night. Cheetahs usually stuck its prey and capture from behind and attack on its throat but leopards attack surprisingly on their prey from any side that is preferable from a shorter distance.

One is diurnal while other is Nocturnal hunter
Leopards and Cheetahs have many distinctive characters and hunting style is one of them. Mostly leopards are nocturnal and cheetahs are diurnal. Leopards only hunt in night where cheetahs hunt in broad daylight.  While a cheetah stays completely active during days leopards prefers to rest in bushes at daytime. Leopards are mostly solitary animals and prefer to live alone where cheetahs are social cats and lives in group.  Cheetah is the fastest land mammal on earth that can run up to 113 km/h.

While leopards can be found in varied places like dense woodlands to savannahs, mountains and desert regions cheetahs can be spotted in savannah grasslands and plains. Cheetahs often stay on termite mounds or small hills to spot their prey while leopards prefer to climb trees to spot their food.


Behaviour & Aggressiveness

In nature and character also both the cats are different. Cheetahs are calmer in comparison to leopards and they have a good relationship with humans too. There is a lot of news of leopards killing or attacking humans where there is no single record of cheetahs attacking any human. At some corner of the globe there are many people who keep cheetahs as domestic animal.

While planning for a Tanzania Safari Tour you are likely to meet more cheetahs than leopards as they lives mostly in savannah land. Serengeti National Park in situated in Tanzania’s northern circuit is the best place to meet both of these furious cat species.

If you are guiding by good guide meeting these hunters in action became easier. Plan your trip with Life Time Safaris to get a good safari exposure in Tanzania.