Leopard: What You Should Know

The leopard belongs to the cat family. It is the fourth largest big cat after the tiger, lion, and jaguar. Its fur is yellow with black dots. When the fur is all black, it is called a panther or black panther.

Leopards live in sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia. They used to live in what is now Indonesia and even in Europe until the Ice Age. There are still many leopards in the southern half of Africa. In other areas, they have been greatly reduced or even eradicated.

How do leopards live?

Leopards can run very fast, jump and climb well, and swim. They lie in wait for their prey or sneak up on them and ambush them. A leopard prefers to eat antelope or deer, but also smaller animals, including reptiles, birds, and even beetles. Adult zebras are already too big for him, but he likes to catch a young ones. Leopards can also see very well at night. Therefore, they hunt at any time of the day.

Leopards are solitary animals that claim large areas for themselves. It’s called territory. For a male, a territory can be as large as the city of Zurich. Females have smaller territories. Male and female territories may overlap. Each animal marks its territory with its urine and feces.

The female only tolerates a male near her for about a week a year. It is then ready to mate. The animals mate several times. They then also hunt together and share their prey. Usually, the males then leave their females. In rare cases, however, they raise the young together.

The female leopard carries her cubs in her belly for a little over three months. She usually gives birth to two to four young. Each weighs about half a kilogram. They only get milk from their mother to drink. At the age of two to three months, they also eat meat that the mother has hunted. In order for the young animals to be able to leave their mother, they must be about one or one and a half years old.

Are leopards endangered?

Leopards have many enemies, especially the larger big cats, but also bears, hyenas, jackals, and wolves. The leopards usually flee to trees.

However, their greatest enemy is the man. Even the ancient Greeks caught leopards in pitfalls or with poisonous arrows. In India, many rulers kept tamed leopards. The Romans dragged leopards to Rome for animal fights.

For centuries, people have hunted leopards to protect their pets. They were also afraid they would eat people. That rarely happens. Especially old or weak leopards, who can no longer kill animals, will also attack humans if necessary.

You could make a lot of money with the furs. Many landowners allowed hunters to hunt on their land and also charged money for doing so. As recently as the last century, the leopard was among the top five big animals to be hunted, along with elephant, rhino, buffalo, and lion.

As humans made more and more land available for agriculture, many of the leopard’s prey disappeared. So they couldn’t find anything to eat.

Today, leopards are protected all over the world. In many countries, however, there are only so few leopards left that the males can no longer find any females and will also die out there. Leopards do best in sub-Saharan Africa. The population here was estimated at up to 700,000 animals. There are said to be around 14,000 leopards left in India. So they are not threatened with extinction.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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