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Wildlife Leopard

Wildlife Leopard (Animals)

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Tags: leopard (31 pics)

The leopard (Panthera pardus) is a member of the Felidae family and the smallest of the four "big cats" in the genus Panthera; the other three being the tiger, lion and jaguar. Once distributed across southern Asia and Africa, from Korea to South Africa, the leopard's range of distribution has decreased radically due to hunting and loss of habitat, and the greatest concentration of leopards now occurs chiefly in sub-Saharan Africa; there are also fragmented populations in Pakistan, India, Indochina, Malaysia, and China. Due to the loss of range and declines in population, it is graded as a "Near Threatened" species. Its numbers are greater than other Panthera species, all of which face more acute conservation concerns.

The leopard has relatively short legs and a long body, with a large skull. It is similar in appearance to the jaguar, although it is of smaller and slighter build. Its fur is marked with rosettes that are similar to those of the jaguar, though the leopard's rosettes are smaller and more densely packed. Leopards that are melanistic, that is either completely black or very dark, are known as black panthers.

The species' success in the wild owes in part to its opportunistic hunting behavior, its adaptability to habitats, and its ability to move at up to approximately 58 kilometres (36 miles) an hour. The leopard consumes virtually any animal it can hunt down and catch. Its preferred habitat ranges from rainforest to desert terrains. Its ecological role is similar to the American cougar.


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