The leopard is a Near Threatened big cat species that inhabits Africa and Asia. They are considered Critically Endangered in Asia. Decreases in wild leopard population are the result of habitat loss and illegal wildlife trade. Many of the remaining populations in Asia are not only smaller, but also more fragmented.
Scientific Name: Panthera pardus
There are several subspecies of leopard:
- Indian leopard (Panthera p. fusca)
- African leopard (Panthera p. pardus)
- Javan leopard (Panthera p. melas)
- Arabian leopard (Panthera. p. nimr)
- North Chinese leopard (Panthera. p. japonensis)
- Persian leopard (Panthera. p. saxicolor)
- Sri Lankan leopard (Panthera. p. kotiya)
- Indochinese leopard (Panthera. p. delacouri)
- Anatolian leopard (Panthera p. tulliana)
- Balochistan leopard (Panthera. p. sindica)
- Amur Leopard (Panthera p. orientalis)
Both the jaguar and leopard have similar black markings on their fur, called “rosettes.” However, the leopard’s rosettes are smaller and closer together. They are also shaped differently based on where the leopard lives. The leopard is also smaller in size than a jaguar. This big cat has relatively short legs, a long body and big head. The cat’s body (including its head) can be up to 65 inches in length, with a tail up to 43 inches long. Males can weigh nearly 200 lbs. and are larger than females.
Habitat & Range
The leopard’s range includes areas in Siberia, through parts of Asia and regions in Africa below the Sahara Desert. The leopard was once found in places like Kuwait, Singapore, Hong Kong, Libya and Tunisia, but is not considered extinct in those regions. They prefer living in forests and grasslands, and stay away from urban areas, deserts, and places where the snow remains on the ground for a long period of time.
Hunting & Prey
Leopards have a varied diet that includes different types of hoofed animals, reptiles, rodents, primates, birds and insects. Leopards will stalk their prey and many times hide their kills in a tree.
Leopard mating begins in January and February. Female leopards typically give birth to 2 to 4 cubs. Between 40 – 50% of the cubs that are born each year do not survive their first 12 months. The cubs are raised in a den, and will stay with their mother for up to two years.
Interesting & Unique Characteristics
- Leopards are often confused with jaguars and cheetahs.
- The leopard’s diet is more varied than any other wild cat.
- Leopards are more broadly distributed in Africa and Asia compared to other wild cats.
- The leopard has a very long tail in relationship to the size of its body.
- Leopards will often hide their kill in a tree.