GENUS AND SPECIES: Panthera pardus
Historical: Asia Minor, Caspian Sea Asia, Iraq, Iran, Indian subcontinent, South East Asia, China north to Siberia, all of Africa except Sahara.
Current: Africa south of the Sahara, India, south east Asia and China.
Length: 5.1 – 8.5 ft. (head to tail)
Height: 18 – 24 in.
Weight: 55 – 100 lbs.
Coloration: Adults – generally small black spots or Rosettes against a background color of yellow, tawny, buffy grey or almost brown; melanistic individuals deep black with rosettes visible at the right light angle.
BEHAVIOR: As with most cats, the leopard is generally solitary except during mating season or (females) raising offspring. After a kill, a leopard will usually store its prey in a tree or rocky outcropping to protect its food supply from other predators.
ADAPTATION: Colored to blend with habitat. Leopards are usually more melanistic (darker in color) in forest habitats, since the tawny coat is more visible in the dark shadows under the tree canopy. In grassland habitats with clumps of trees, the light is more dappled and the background tawny, thus the spotted coating is better adapted.
BREEDING AND GROWTH:
Gestation: 90 – 105 days.
Females breed every two years, usually producing two cubs to each litter. Cubs are born with a wooly appearance with subdued spots. Size at birth about 1.5 lbs. Cubs stay with female for two years or until female is ready to breed again.
Wild: 12 yrs.
Captivity: 20 yrs.
STATUS: Endangered in most areas where poaching and loss of habitat have reduced populations. Some slight improvement in East Africa where parks and reserves have protected habitat and reduced poaching.
GENERAL INFORMATION: Females do not defend a given territory and may share overlapping ranges with other females. Males do mark and defend a specific range which may overlap the territories of one or more females. Both males and females mark their ranges by spraying bushes, clawing tree trunks, and in some cases climbing into trees and marking branches.