Leopards are found in many different types of habitats, including woodlands, forests, grasslands, deserts, and mountains. They live in sub-Saharan Africa and several parts of Asia, including India, China, the Himalayas, the Arabian peninsula, Sri Lanka, and Russia. These carnivores hunt small antelopes, primates, deer, and other mammals, as well as birds, reptiles, and fish. They generally live for 10 to 12 years in the wild and 21 to 23 years in captivity.
Scientific & Common Names
The scientific name of the Leopard is Panthera pardus. Leopards with black fur are commonly called Black Panthers. There are nine subspecies of leopards, which include the endangered Amur Leopard, or Panthera pardus orientalis.
Leopards vary in size and color depending on their habitat and geographic location. Smaller leopards live in deserts and mountains, while larger ones live in woodlands and grasslands. In general, leopards have tawny or reddish-orange coats with black rosettes, small and rounded ears, shorter legs than other big cats and powerful jaws. Adults measure between seven to ten feet from head to tail and weigh between 66 to 176 pounds.
Leopards breed all year round, although they reach a breeding peak in May during the rainy season. Males and females take multiple mates throughout their lifetime. Females give birth to litters of two to three cubs after a gestation period of roughly 96 days. Mothers hide their young when they go hunting, until the cubs are old enough to join them. Leopards typically reach reproductive maturity at around two years of age.
Leopards are fast runners, good swimmers, and expert climbers. They’re comfortable in the lower branches of trees, where they feed and sleep. Leopards are generally solitary except when they mate or when females raise cubs. They’re mostly active at night and have excellent hearing and vision, which helps them find prey in denser areas. They communicate by roaring, growling, purring, and making a raspy coughing sound to announce their presence.
Leopards still live in much of their historical range, although local populations are decreasing as their habitats become smaller. Leopards that once lived in Hong Kong, Singapore, Tunisia, Libya, Kuwait, and the Syrian Arab Republic are now extinct.
Leopards currently have a Near Threatened status, although some subspecies, such as the Amur Leopard, are Endangered or Critically Endangered. The main threats to leopards are habitat loss and hunting. The species is protected by national laws in most of the countries in which they’re found.