(Panthera pardus) are one of the four 'big cats' of the
genus Panthera. They range in size from one to almost
two metres long, and weigh between 30 and 70 kg. The Leopard
is a sexually dimorphic species, with females being typically
around two-thirds the size of males. Most Leopards are light
tan or fawn with black spots, but their coat color is highly
variable. The spots tend to be smaller on the head, and larger
with pale centres on the body.
unique spotted pattern of the coats of Leopards helps to camouflage
them in the lowland forests, mountains, grasslands, brush country
and desert habitats which they occupy. Leopards are usually
nocturnal, resting by day on the branch of a tree, in dense
vegetation or among rocks. It may move 25 km in a night, and
generally moves by a slow, silent walk, although it can briefly
run at speeds of over 60 km/hr. It may leap over 6 meters horizontally
and over 3 meters vertically. It climbs with great agility and
can descend headfirst.
and hearing are acute, and the sense of small seems to be better
developed than that of a tiger. Hunting is accomplished by stealthily
approaching its prey by stalking. Larger animals are seized
by the throat and killed by strangulation. Smaller prey may
be dispatched by a bite to the back of the neck. Prey consists
of medium-sized ungulates. But monkeys and baboons also are
commonly taken. If necessary, the leopard can switch to prey
such as rodents, rabbits, birds and arthropods. Food is often
stored in trees for later use.
keep to a restricted area, which they defend against others
of the same sex. Territories are marked with urine. The range
of a male may include that of one or more females. Leopards
are normally a solitary species. There are a variety of communicative
vocalizations, most commonly a coughing grunt and a rasping
sound. Breeding occurs throughout the year in Africa and India.
A female may give birth every l1-2 years. The estrous cycle
is about 46 days, and heat lasts 6-7 days; gestation period
is 90-105 days. Births occurs in a cave, crevice, hollow tree,
or thicket. Litter size is one to six. Cubs weight 500-600 grams.
Tyes open after 10 days, weaned at 3 months, and cubs separate
from the mother at 18-24 months.
to the human-induced changes of the last few hundred years,
Leopards were the most widely distributed of all felids other
than the domestic cat: they were found through most of Africa
(with the exception of the Sahara Desert), as well as parts
of Asia Minor. The Leopard is doing surprisingly well for a
large predator. It is estimated that there are as many as 500,000
Leopards worldwide. But like many other big cats, Leopards are
increasingly under threat of habitat loss and are facing increased
hunting pressure. Because of their stealthy habits and camouflage,
they can go undetected even in close proximity to human settlements.
Despite the Lleopard's abilities, it is no match for habitat
destruction and poachers, and several subspecies are endangered,
namely, the Amur, Anatolian, Barbary, North Chinese, and South
are still found in 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, Muritania, 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 and Zimbabwe.