Temporal range: Late Pliocene or Early Pleistocene to recent
|Range of the leopard: former (red), uncertain (yellow), highly fragmented (light green), and present (dark green)|
A leopard (Panthera pardus) is a big feline of the genus Panthera. It lives in Africa and Asia. An apex predator, it is distinguished by its well-camouflaged fur (which is marked with rosettes), opportunistic hunting behaviour, stealthiness, elusiveness, broad diet, strength, and its ability to adapt to a variety of habitats ranging from rainforest to steppe, including arid and montane areas.
Leopards are a secretive big cat. Unlike lions, leopards are solitary and do not live in groups. The adult males live separately, and the females live only with their cubs. Leopards live in habitats where there are some trees. They climb trees well, and do so regularly. They can carry prey up a tree and keep it safe from hyaenas and lions. Trees are its main escape from attacks by lions or packs of dogs. It is an ambush predator, and operates best where it has some cover. Leopards come out only to hunt either during the noon or late in the night.
The most similar cat in its lifestyle is the jaguar, which lives in Central and South America. Both leopards and jaguars that are melanistic are known as black panthers.
Appearance[change | change source]
Leopards generally have yellow fur with dark rosettes and spots, and a lighter colored underside. But there can be a lot of differences in the different leopard subspecies. There are also often leopards who are completely black, those are also called black panthers. Male leopards are about 30% larger than female leopards.
Habitat[change | change source]
Originally the leopard lived in all of Africa (but not in the Sahara) and southern Asia. But today many leopard subspecies, especially in Asia, are endangered. Leopards live in a lot of different environments: rainforests, forests, mountains and savannas.
Life style[change | change source]
The leopard is mostly active at night. It is basically an ambush hunter. It can climb very well, and it stays up in trees a lot of its time. Leopards usually live alone and try not to meet other leopards. They only come together to mate. Young leopards leave their mothers after 13 – 18 months.
Hunting and diet[change | change source]
Leopards hunt at different times, and they also use different methods for hunting. Most often leopards will secretly move towards their prey and attack it when they are close, or hide and wait for it to come close.
Leopards are versatile, opportunistic hunters, and have a very wide diet. Leopards are carnivores. Leopards are apex predators. They prey on antelope, zebras, warthogs, buffalo, wildebeest, wild boar and deer, but they also prey on rodents, hares, fish, birds, snakes, lizards, turtles, monkeys and even jackals. Leopards are the only natural predators of adult chimpanzees and gorillas, though probably not the large male silverback gorillas. Leopards do not usually eat humans, but sometimes leopards that are hurt or sick can attack and eat people when they do not have enough to eat. A leopard in India is believed to have eaten more than 125 people.
Subspecies[change | change source]
There are nine subspecies of leopards recognized today, one in Africa and eight in Asia. They are:
- African leopard P.p pardus
- Amur leopard P.p orientalis
- Arabian leopard P.p nimr
- Indian leopard P.p fusca
- Indo Chinese leopard P.p delacouri
- Javan leopard P.p melas
- North Chinese leopard P.p japonensis
- Persian leopard P.p saxicolor
- Sri Lankan leopard P.p kotiya
References[change | change source]
- ↑ Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M (eds.). Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 547. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- ↑ Stein, A.B.; Athreya, V.; Gerngross, P.; Balme, G.; Henschel, P.; Karanth, U.; Miquelle, D.; Rostro, S.; Kamler, J.F.; Laguardia, A. (2016). "Panthera pardus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
- ↑ Kindersley, Dorling (2001, 2005). Animal. New York City: DK Publishing. ISBN 0-7894-7764-5.
- ↑ "Leopard savaging a crocodile caught on camera". The Telegraph. 18 July 2011. Archived from the original on 10 July 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- ↑ Primates: Gorilla Facts – National Zoo| FONZ Archived 2010-06-01 at the Wayback Machine. Nationalzoo.si.edu. Retrieved on 2012-08-21.
- ↑ Hart, Donna & Robert W. Sussman 2005. Man the hunted: primates, predators, and human evolution. Westview Press. ISBN 0813339367.
- ↑ Tougias, Michael 2007. When Man is the prey: true stories of animals attacking humans. Macmillan. ISBN 0312373007