Karma Cats

  • LEOPARDS - Panthera pardusLEOPARDS - Panthera pardus
  • LEOPARDS - Panthera pardusLEOPARDS - Panthera pardus

LEOPARDS - Panthera pardus

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Sub-Species Location

Status

     

African Leopard

Panthera pardus pardus

Africa

Near Threatened

     

Arabian Leopard

Panthera pardus nimr

Arabia

Critically Endangered
(<200)

     

Persian Leopard

Panthera pardus saxicolor
Central Asia

Endangered
(850 – 1300 )

     

Javan Leopard

Panthera pardus melas

Java Indonesia

Critically Endangered
(300 – 500)

     

Sri Lankan Leopard

Panthera pardus kotiya

Sri Lanka

Endangered
(700 – 950)

     

Indian Leopard

Panthera pardus fusca

Indian sub-continent

Near Threatened

     

Indo-Chinese Leopard
Panthera pardus delacourii

Southeast Asia into southern China

Near Threatened

     

North Chinese Leopard
Panthera pardus japonensis

Northern China

Near Threatened

     

Amur Leopard
Panthera pardus orientalis

Russian Far East

Critically Endangered
(14 – 20)

     

Anatolian Leopard
Panthera pardus tulliana

Western Turkey

Possibly Extinct in the Wild

 

Distribution

Leopards have the greatest geographic distribution of any member of the big cat family.

 

Native:
Afghanistan; Algeria; Angola; Armenia; Azerbaijan; Bangladesh; Benin; Bhutan; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cambodia; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; China; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Djibouti; Egypt; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Georgia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; India; Indonesia (Jawa); Iran, Islamic Republic of; Israel; Jordan; Kenya; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Liberia; Malawi; Malaysia; Mali; Morocco; Mozambique; Myanmar; Namibia; Nepal; Niger; Nigeria; Oman; Pakistan; Russian Federation; Rwanda; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Swaziland; Tajikistan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Togo; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Uganda; United Arab Emirates; Uzbekistan; Viet Nam; Yemen; Zambia; Zimbabwe


Regionally extinct:

Hong Kong; Kuwait; Libyan Arab Jamahiriya; Singapore; Syrian Arab Republic; Tunisia

 

Presence uncertain:
Iraq; Kazakhstan; Korea, Republic of; Lebanon; Lesotho; Mauritania

   

Population

African: 10,000
Asian: 2000 - 3000

   

Physical
Description

  • Leopards are very similar in appearance to jaguars but are slightly smaller and have a smaller head
  • Both animals are short, stocky and muscular cats
  • Both have a yellow / golden undercoat with black rosettes but the leopards’ are smaller and generally do not have a spot in the middle of the rosette (jaguars generally do)
  • Rosettes change in size, shape and thickness from cat to cat
  • Belly and neck of the cat are white
  • The backs of the ears are white at the top and black below
  • Some carry a recessive gene causing the production of too much melanin resulting in the cat looking black – this is referred to as a panther (a melanistic leopard or jaguar).  If the leopard sits in the light, you will still be able to see it’s rosettes as the undercoat is a dark brown due to the melanin, and the rosettes are still black
   

Size

Head and body length: 1 m – 1.5 m  
Tail length: 55 cm – 90 cm        
Weight: 20 kg - 75 kg       

 

  • Males tend to be 30 – 50 % larger than females
  • Cats living in forested areas tend to be a smaller animal than those living in open areas
   

Life Span

Wild: 10 – 12 years 
Captivity: 18 – 21 years

   

Breeding

Male

Sexual maturity  2 – 2.5 years

Female

Sexual maturity 2 – 2.5 years (first litter generally 2.5 to 4 years)

Oestrus

Cycle every 20 – 50 days (average 45 days)
Lasts for one to two weeks

Mating

Mate for 1 - 4 days
Can mate up to 60 times a day, each mating lasting only 3 secs
Males hold females by the back of the neck, when finished female often turns and snarls

Gestation 90 -105 days (average 96 days)
Cubs

1 - 6 cubs (average 2)
Cubs born blind, open eyes at 4 – 9 days

Dependant

Dependant on Mum for 12 months to 18 months but may not disperse until 2 - 3 years
Drink milk until about 4 months
Eating meat at 2 – 3 months
Cubs start to leave den travel with mum at 2 – 3 months
Adult teeth come through at 7 – 8 months
Start making kills at 7 – 8 months

 

Cub mortality in the wild is estimated at 40 – 50 %. Highest cause of mortality is from lions, tigers and hyenas and even male leopards killing cubs while the female is hunting.

   

Diet & Hunting

  • Extremely agile, exceptional climbers and expert jumpers
  • Opportunistic predator that will eat anything from beetles, reptiles, rodents, hares, birds, monkeys, jackals, wild pigs, deer, antelope to zebra but general diet includes small to large mammals (5 – 45 kgs)
  • Hunt mainly on the ground but often drag their kills into trees or bushes to protect them from other predators such as lions, tigers or hyenas
  • Can kill prey up to 10 times their own weight but rarely do
  • Will eat a larger variety of prey than other members of the cat family
  • Will kill the cubs of other large carnivores such as lions, cheetahs and hyenas
  • Will often take domestic livestock
  • Ambush predator that kills with a bite to the throat (larger prey) or the back of the neck (smaller)
  • Uses the cover of rocks, trees, bushes etc. to get as close to prey as possible
  • Often will get as close as 4 – 8m to prey before launching ambush
  • Sometimes leap on prey from the tree they are hiding in
  • When chasing prey, they often slap it off balance with their large paws
  • Will eat carrion
  • In captivity will eat 1 – 1.2 kgs per day
  • In the wild, can eat a quarter of their body weight in one sitting but then will not eat again for a few days
   

Habitat

  • Can be found in every type of habitat – they are only restricted by prey and water supply
  • Very adaptable and can live close to humans
  • Will play and swim in water
  • Tropical rainforests
  • Tall grasslands
  • Forests
  • Mangrove swamps
  • Reed jungles
  • Semi-desert
  • Snowy mountains (>5,000 m)
  • Woodlands
  • Savanna
  • Rocky Hills
   

Social System & Territories

  • Extremely elusive and secretive animal
  • Mostly nocturnal spending the day resting.  Activity levels and timing of main competitors can sometimes force leopards to hunt during the day to avoid conflict.  Hunting does also depend on the timing of prey activity.
  • Solitary animal only coming together to mate, or a female with cubs
  • Like most cats, males typically have a large territory that overlaps with a number of female territories
  • Males will retain exclusive breeding rights to females in his territory as long as he can defend
  • Depending on the amount of prey, territories vary from 6 km2 to 1000 km2
  • Communicate with each other using cheek rubbing on trees, faeces, urine and spray marking (urine with scent gland secretion) sprayed on rocks, trees, bushes etc. to mark territories
  • Flehmen – allows olfactory & chemical clues to pass over naso-vomeral organ positioned in the roof of the mouth
  • Visual marks are also left with scrape marks (scratching hind feet in the dirt) and scratch marks left on logs and trees
  • Vocalisations include coughing, puffing, mew, grunt, hiss, spit, snarl, rasping and sawing (can be heard up to 3 kms away)
   

Threats

  • In Africa main competitors are lions and hyenas
  • In Asia main competitors are tigers and wild dogs
  • Trophy hunting
  • Conflicts with humans over livestock
  • Habitat destruction for grazing livestock
  • Poaching
  • Full CITES (Appendix I) protection
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