Leopard, the elusive cat.
Leopards are by their nature a mysterious animal. The live solitary lives and are for the most part nocturnal, hunting by night and sleeping by day. Due to this it is quite difficult to see leopards while on an African Safari. However certain places such as the Kruger in South Africa are known for their leopard populations. The best way to see one is by keeping an out out in the trees. Often during the day a leopard will head up into the branches for some sleep and as a place to be safe from scavengers such as hyena.
Easily distinguishable from the cheetah, the leopard has larger rosette shaped spots and is of course much more muscular. A leopard of the same size is about half as heavy again as the swift cheetah. The head is also much thicker and solid. Both the cheetah and the leopard stalk their prey but the difference is that the leopard gets much much closer before he pounces and will also go after much bigger and heavier prey. Though the impala and springbok are most likely to be seen on a leopards menu they will in fact eat almost anything from mice to baby giraffes.
Due to its abilities Panthera pardus is extremely wide ranging and found in all sorts of habitats around the world. Numerous subspecies exist from West Africa all the way to Siberia. Its conservation status is non-threatened simply because of its ability to survive in so many diverse landscapes. However it does still suffer from human encroachment into its territories. There is a large variation in sizes depending on location. For example leopards from the Kruger can weigh up to 90 kg whereas those from the Western Cape area of South Africa, the other side of the country are often around 35 kg.
African, Indian, Javan, Amur, Sri Lankan, Arabian, Persian, Indo-Chinese and North-Chinese leopards all exist.
Shoulder height: 50 – 80 cm
Weight 30 – 90 kg
Males are 25-30% larger
Conservation Status: Near Threatened.
Litter size: 2 cubs