Leopard caught in photos taken years apart

July 19, 2012 at 4:46 PM

NEW YORK, July 19 (UPI) -- A leopard caught in a dramatic photo with his prey, an Indian bison calf, is the same animal snapped by a camera trap eight years ago, a wildlife group says.

The photo, taken by photographer Vinay S. Kumar in southwest India, was first submitted to Conservation India, a not-for-profit group engaged in conservation action.

CI officials said they were intrigued by the picture and sent it to the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, which has been running a tiger-monitoring program for more than two decades.

The male was quickly identified in the WCS database of camera-trap pictures using special computer software that can compare leopard spot patterns.

The animal, dubbed Bandipur Leopard 123 or BPL-123, was first photographed by a camera trap on Dec. 2, 2004, a WCS release reported Thursday.

"Photographs can help track the life histories of individual tigers -- and as can be seen in this case, leopards," Ullas Karanth, director of WCS's India Programs, said.

"As this particular 'catch' shows, BPL–123 is thriving, and his superb condition is perhaps an indicator of the health of his habitat too."

Leopards are known for hauling prey much larger than themselves into trees to keep them away from other predators.

The gaur, or Indian bison, in the photograph probably weighs about 220 pounds, while a full-grown male Indian leopard would weigh 110 to 154 pounds, conservationists said.

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