This middle-sized wild cat has a slim and long body with short, sturdy legs and a long tail, helping the animal to keep balance when in the trees. The head is broad and the skull is large, having strong and powerful jaw muscles. The ears are small and round. The eyebrows exhibit long hairs, protecting the eyes of the animal as it moves through dense vegetation. There are also long whiskers, stretching from dark markings on the upper lip of the animal. The overall coloration and markings of their coat greatly depend on the environment. Thus, leopards, living on open grasslands, typically exhibit a light yellow background fur. Meanwhile, the coat of those, found in forests, is usually darker and covered with more markings. The black rosettes, covering their body, are square-like in populations of South Africa, being circular in those of East Africa. The tail is ringed, and the animal has distinct black markings on its face, chest, and feet.
Nocturnality is an animal behavior characterized by being active during the night and sleeping during the day. The common adjective is "nocturnal",...
A carnivore meaning 'meat eater' is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of a...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
Arboreal locomotion is the locomotion of animals in trees. In habitats in which trees are present, animals have evolved to move in them. Some anima...
Altricial animals are those species whose newly hatched or born young are relatively immobile. They lack hair or down, are not able to obtain food ...
Ambush predators are carnivorous animals that capture or trap prey by stealth, luring, or by (typically instinctive) strategies utilizing an elemen...
An apex predator, also known as a top predator, is a predator at the top of a food chain and has no natural predators. These animals usually occup...
A cursorial organism is one that is adapted specifically to run. An animal can be considered cursorial if it has the ability to run fast (e.g. chee...
A territory is a sociographical area that which an animal consistently defends against the conspecific competition (or, occasionally, against anima...
Among animals, viviparity is the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. The term 'viviparity' and its adjective form 'viviparous'...
Polygynandry is a mating system in which both males and females have multiple mating partners during a breeding season.
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
These cats are distributed across a huge area, stretching from sub-Saharan Africa to West Asia and the Middle East, reaching South and Southeast Asia and Siberia. Leopards are found in a wide variety of habitats, though they usually give preference to areas, covered with trees. They typically live in woodlands, forests, and grassland savannas. Less frequently, they occur in mountainous areas as well as scrublands and deserts.
Leopards hunt at night, usually on the ground or in trees. They are generally asocial animals, living solitarily and avoiding other leopards. Moreover, when leopards accidentally encounter each other, they can engage in a fight. Usually, the animal emits a rasping or sawing cough, in order to inform other leopards of its presence. Home ranges of leopards usually overlap with each other. Thus, the home range of a male leopard can often overlap with the territories of multiple females. Females live with their cubs in home ranges that overlap extensively and continue to interact with their offspring even after weaning; females may even share kills with their offspring when they can not obtain any prey. Leopards are active mainly from dusk till dawn and rest for most of the day and for some hours at night in thickets, among rocks or over tree branches. In some regions, they are nocturnal. Leopards usually hunt on the ground and depend mainly on their acute senses of hearing and vision for hunting. They stalk their prey and try to approach it as closely as possible, typically within 5 m (16 ft) of the target, and, finally, pounce on it and kill it by suffocation. Leopards produce a number of vocalizations, including growls, snarls, meows, and purrs. Cubs call their mother with an 'urr-urr' sound. In order to warn intruders, leopards usually scratch trees, leaving claw marks. In addition, due to having a highly developed sense of smell, they often use scent marks.
Leopards are carnivores. The diet of these opportunistic feeders includes a huge variety of animals such as jackals, antelopes, gazelles, monkeys, duiker, eland, impala, wildebeest, birds, rodents, hyraxes, hares, snakes, sheep, goats, and insects. Leopards attain all required moisture from their food, so they can survive without drinking water for long periods of time.
Leopards have polygynandrous mating system, where both males and females mate with a number of mates. They breed throughout the year with a peak period, occurring in May, during the rainy season. The gestation period lasts for 90-105 days, yielding from 2 to 4 cubs. Females give birth in a cave, crevice among boulders, hollow tree, or thicket. Cubs are born with closed eyes, which open 4 to 9 days after birth. Being extremely vulnerable in the wild, the cubs remain hidden, living in a secluded place, covered with dense vegetation. By the age of 6-8 weeks, the young attain their dark, woolly coat, covered with blurry patches, which serves young leopards as camouflage, allowing them to follow their mother around. Reaching the age of 3 months, the cubs are weaned, accompanying their mother at a hunt. On the whole, they remain with their mother for 18-24 months, after which they leave to find their own territories. Young leopards start breeding when they are between 2 and 3 years old.
Presently, this animal suffers from loss and fragmentation of its natural habitat. Pest control is another serious concern, reducing the population of Leopards throughout their range. In central and western Africa, the animal is hunted for its skin and teeth, which are used in traditional rituals and ceremonial dresses. On the other hand, populations in Eurasia are exposed to illegal trade.
The global population of these animals is unknown today, except for specific populations in certain areas of their distribution. Thus, the population in Africa is estimated to be more than 700,000 individuals, whereas the population in India varies from 12,000 to 14,000 animals. However, the population of the species as a whole is currently declining, and the Leopard is classified on the UICN Red List as a Vulnerable (VU) species.
Leopards are top predators of their habitat, playing a significant role in the local ecosystem by controlling the numbers and health of the populations of wild ungulate species.