Leopard (Panthera pardus)
The Leopard is a large cat with a long muscular body and relatively short legs. The body background colour varies from yellowish brown to grey or reddish brown. The fur is marked with irregular shaped black rosettes. The chest and throat white with black spots. The head and legs have small black spots. The underside is white with large black spots like blotches. The backs of the small ears are black with a lighter spot in the center. All black leopards are common (melanism) especially in dense forest where the darker color provides better camouflage. These dark forms are sometimes called black panthers. Animals from the tropics have short coats, and those in colder climates have longer dense fur.
Length: 91cm - 292cm (average range 150cm - 190cm). Weight: 28kg - 90kg (average 59kg).
These cats inhabit lowland forests, mountains, grasslands, brush country, swampy forests and deserts.
Leopards eat a wide range of mammals including wildebeest, impalas, reed-bucks, gazelles, jackals, baboons. They also eat smaller mammals and birds such as storks, fish and domestic livestock such as goats. The kill larger prey by biting the throat until the animals suffocates. Leopards are can carry carcasses larger than themselves and drag them up trees.
The female Leopard makes a den in a cave, rock crevice, hollow tree, or dense vegetation. She gives birth to a litter of two or three cubs, but are usually seen with one or two. The gestation period is about 92 - 112 days. The cubs open their eyes after about 10 days. The cubs have thick grey fur with less well defined spots than adults. After about 3 months the cubs start to follow the mother on hunts and are fully weaned about 4 months. They remain with their mother for 18 to 24 months.
Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Arabia, Armenia, Botswana, Burma, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Dem. Rep. Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, India, Indonesia (Java), Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Liberia, Laos, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, North and South Korea, Pakistan, Republic of Congo, Russia, Saudia Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
The conservation status in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals is "near threatened".
Leopard on tree branch
Photograph by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. License: Public Domain.
North China leopard (Panthera pardus japonensis)
Photograph by Jastrow. License: Public Domain.
African Leopard in Sabi Sabi Game Reserve, South Africa.
Photograph by Christian Nygaard. Some rights reserved.