Leopard, South Africa

Photograph by Madison Hall

A dew-bathed juvenile leopard takes a peaceful moment atop a fallen tree on a wintry South African morning. Compared with other African game, leopards are famously shy and rarely seen, partially because of their largely nocturnal hunting habits. Leopards number among many other species of top predators whose population numbers are falling due to human impacts, making this a special sighting of a rare animal that is both powerful and extraordinarily gorgeous.

(This photo and caption were submitted to the 2011 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest. Browse all entries and vote for your favorites.)

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