Leopard is sleek and highly effective huge cats intently associated with lions, tigers, and jaguars. They dwell in sub-Saharan Africa, northeast Africa, Central Asia, India, and China. However, a lot of their populations are endangered, particularly outdoors in Africa.
The leopard (Panthera pardus) is among the 5 extant species within the genus Panthera, a member of the Felidae. It happens in a variety in sub-Saharan Africa, in small components of Western and Central Asia, on the Indian subcontinent to Southeast and East Asia. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List as a result of leopard populations are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, and are declining in massive components of the worldwide vary. In Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuwait, Syria, Libya, Tunisia, and most definitely in Morocco, leopard populations have already been extirpated. Contemporary information recommends that the leopard happens in solely 25% of its historic world vary.
Compared to different wild cats, the leopard has comparatively quick legs and an extended physique with a big cranium. Its fur is marked with rosettes. It is analogous in look to the jaguar however has a smaller, lighter physique, and its rosettes are usually smaller, extra densely packed, and without central spots. Both leopards and jaguars which are melanistic are referred to as black panthers.
The leopard is distinguished by its well-camouflaged fur, opportunistic searching habits, broad eating regimen, power, and it’s potential to adapt to a wide range of habitats starting from rainforest to steppe, together with arid and montane areas. It can run at speeds of as much as 58 kilometers per hour. The earliest identified leopard fossils excavated in Europe are estimated 600,000 years outdated, courting to the late Early Pleistocene. Leopard fossils had been additionally present in Japan.
The leopard is so robust and cozy in bushes that it typically hauls its kills into the branches. By dragging our bodies of huge animals aloft it hopes to maintain them protected from scavengers similar to hyenas. Leopards can even hunt from bushes, the place their noticed coats permit them to mix with the leaves till they spring with a lethal pounce. These nocturnal predators additionally stalk antelope, deer, and pigs by stealthy actions within the tall grass. When human settlements are current, leopards typically assault canines and, sometimes, individuals.
Leopards are robust swimmers and really a lot at residence within the water, the place they generally eat fish or crabs.
Female leopards may give start at any time of the 12 months. They normally have two grayish cubs with barely seen spots. The mom hides her cubs and strikes them from one protected location to the following till they’re sufficiently old to start taking part in and studying to hunt. Cubs dwell with their moms for about two years—in any other case, leopards are solitary animals.
Most leopards are light-colored with distinctive darkish spots which are referred to as rosettes as a result of they resemble the form of a rose. Black leopards, which look nearly strong in coloration as a result of their spots are exhausting to differentiate, are generally referred to as black panthers.
The leopard’s fur is mostly tender and thick, notably softer on the stomach than on the again. Its pores and skin coloration varies between people from pale yellowish to darkish golden with darkish spots grouped in rosettes. Its stomach is whitish and its ringed tail is shorter than its physique. Its pupils are spherical. Leopards residing in arid areas are pale cream, yellowish to ochraceous, and rufous in coloration, these residing in forests and mountains are a lot darker and deep golden.
Spots fade towards the white underbelly and the insides and decrease components of the legs. Rosettes are round in East African leopard populations and are typically squarish in Southern African and bigger in Asian leopard populations. The fur tends to be grayish in colder climates, and darkish golden in rain forest habitats. The sample of the rosettes is exclusive in every particular person.
Its fur tends to develop longer in colder climates. The guard hairs defending the basal hairs are quick, 3–four mm in face and head, and improve in size towards the flanks and the stomach to about 25–30 mm. Juveniles have woolly fur and look like dark-colored as a result of densely organized spots. Its white-tipped tail is about 60–100 cm lengthy, white beneath, and with spots that type incomplete bands towards the tail’s finish. The leopard’s rosettes differ from these of the jaguar, that is darker and with smaller spots inside. The cheetah has small spherical spots with no rosettes.
Like most cat species, the leopard has a diploid chromosome variety of 38. The chromosomes embody 4 acrocentrics, 5 metacentric, seven submetacentric, and two telocentric pairs.
Size and weight
The leopard is sexually dimorphic, males are bigger and heavier than females. It is muscular, with comparatively quick limbs and a broadhead. Males stand 60–70 cm on the shoulder, whereas females are 57–64 cm tall. The head-and-body size ranges between 90 and 196 cm with a 66-to-102-centimeter-long tail. Sizes differ geographically. Males weigh 37–90 kg, and females 28–60 kg.
Usually, leopards are bigger in areas the place they’re on the high of the meals chain, without aggressive restriction from bigger predators similar to lions and tigers. Some leopards in North Africa allegedly had been as massive as Barbary lions. In 1913, an Algerian newspaper reported a leopard killed that allegedly measured about 275 cm in the whole size. To examine, male lions measure 266–311 cm from head to the top of the tail.
The most weight of a wild leopard is about 96 kg, recorded in Southern Africa. It measured 262 cm. An Indian leopard killed in Himachal Pradesh in 2016 measured 261 cm with an estimated weight of 78.5 kg was maybe the biggest identified wild leopard.