- Genus/Species: Panthera pardus.
- Conservation Status: Near threatened in some areas, endangered and critically endangered in others.
- Location: Sub-Saharan Africa, northeast Africa, Central Asia, India, and China.
Strong, Secretive and Shrewd
Leopards live in quite a variety of habitats, such as rainforests, cliffs, swampy forests and rocky mountain areas right up to the snow line. There are about 20 different kinds of leopards.The leopard is the most secretive, the strongest and the shrewdest of the big cats. Leopards are active at night, and they rest during the daytime in trees or thick bushes. Most leopards are light colored with distinctive dark spots that are called rosettes. This spotted coat provides almost perfect camouflage.
Leopards are not very big. They are about two and a half feet tall but weigh as much as a 14 year old boy- around 140 lbs. The leopard is a cunning, stealthy hunter and capable of killing prey larger than itself. Its prey ranges from dead animals to fish, reptiles and birds, as well as mammals such as rodents, hares, antelopes, monkeys and baboons. Leopards are strong swimmers and feel very much at home in the water, where they sometimes eat fish or crabs. The leopard often hauls its food into the branches to keep it safe from other animals such as hyenas. Its powerful limb and neck muscles enable it to carry up to three times its own body weight, high into the tree tops!
Leopards are in danger from floods, forest fires and especially from humans. They are a protected species in many countries.
Did You Know?
- A leopard’s spots are called rosettes, because they resemble the shape of a rose. Each leopard's spots are unique, similar to human fingerprints
- The leopard is capable of running at speeds of 36 miles per hour- as fast as a car- for brief periods.
- A leopard can leap more than 18 feet horizontally- the length of a fairly big room- and jump as high as the ceiling in your room- around 10 feet.
- A leopard’s tail is just about as long as its entire body. This helps it with balance and enables it to make sharp turns quickly.