Thanatological behavior of a female Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca)

Reuven Yosef, Hemant Dabi, Swapnil Kumbhojkar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We report an observation at Jhalana Leopard Reserve (JLR), Jaipur, India. On 16 March 2019, we saw a female walking up the mountain while calling her two, 4-month-old, male and female cubs. This allowed several safari jeeps to park in the shade of nearby Acacia trees. Two Striped Hyenas (Hyaena hyaena) approached and sniffed at the base of one of the trees near the parked jeeps. Upon seeing the Hyaenas, the female ran down the mountain, passed between the jeeps, and climbed into the tree. That is when we noticed the body of the female cub at a height of approximately 4.5 m. The female licked the body of the cub for several minutes and then picked it up in her mouth, climbed down from the tree, passed again between the jeeps, and walked up the mountain towards a dense stand of Thor (Euphorbia caducifolia), a thorny cactus. Our observations display how a mother leopard that has lost a cub refuses to abandon the carcass, cached it in a tree, and when discovered by scavengers removed it to a thicket of cacti. We consider the behavior towards her dead cub, and subsequent caching when discovered by other animals, to be the first evidence for thanatological expression in leopards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-140
Number of pages4
JournalActa Ethologica
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2021


  • Bereaved
  • Burial
  • Caching
  • Leopard
  • Panthera pardus fusca


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