Leopards are among the most solitary and secretive members of the cat family.
As they did during the Ice Age,
they use camouflage and speed to ambush their prey.
This one decides to wait for a better opportunity.
Leopards maintain territories of up to twenty square miles.
Because territories often overlap,
they must be diligent about marking their turf.
Leopards have adapted to a wider
variety of habitats than any other wildcat.
They spend much of their time in trees.
Trees provide a good perch from which to search for prey or stage an ambush.
And after a kill,
trees make a good place to store prey
out of the reach of scavengers.
Adult males average about a hundred and thirty pounds
and can take down animals several times their own size.
Between hunts, trees offer safety
allowing this leopard to doze in the late afternoon sun.
In a nearby patch of open savanna,
a pack of African wild dogs huddles around their young.
They bear some unusual traits for mammals that have endured almost
unchanged since long before the Ice Age.
Instead of the females raising the
young, it is the male dogs that take the lead in child rearing.
Accordingly, males in the pack outnumber the females by two to one.
Pups are born blind in their den and
don't emerge until they're about three weeks old.
Of course fathers can't do everything
and this mom must endure the demands of a litter full of hungry pups.
It is usually only the dominant male and female that breed
and if another female in the pack were to produce a litter,
it is likely this alpha female would kill the pups
and possibly even the mother.
The mother decides that the pups have had enough
as she sees other duties calling.
Through the ages, wild dogs have perfected the art of pack hunting and
can bring down animals five times their size.
They run at speeds of up to thirty-five miles per hour
but like wolves, it is their team effort that makes them so successful.
The pups are usually allowed to eat first.
Wild dogs are exclusively meat eaters
and have short powerful jaws with an impressive array of shearing teeth.
But they do not kill haphazardly.
Each hunt preserves the balance of life on the African plains.
After the dogs have had their fill,
the vultures arrive to finish off the carcass.
Nothing is left to waste in the wild
as meals are few and far between.
Hyenas are one of the few animals that can digest bone
and thus fill a niche in the food
chain that ensures nothing will be left behind.
These pups are just beginning to learn the hunting skills
and take this opportunity to practice the chase.
Soon they'll be responsible for the pack's survival,
but today they enjoy the carefree pleasures of youth.
As evening approaches, the adults create a perimeter around the den
where they will post guard through the night.
Much as their ancestors have for millions of years,
these adults have invested heavily in their pups.
But as with all the animals that survive the Ice Age,
their future remains uncertain.
Although they don't know it now,
the struggles these pups will face
over disappearing land and dwindling supplies of food
may ultimately lead to a struggle for their species' survival.
Today, ten thousand years after the Ice Age,
the earth's climate continues to warm.
Animals that lived through the Ice Age now face a far tougher test
in the struggle for depleted resources and space.
And now it is man, rather than nature that determines who will survive.