Leopard

Panthera pardus

Leopard in Tree

Vulnerable

Description

Leopards are powerful big cats with distinctive dark spots called rosettes. They are good swimmers and climbers, often hunting from trees and storing their prey in the branches. They are one of Africa’s ‘Big Five’.

Lifespan

10-12 years in the wild

Population

Leopards are widely distributed across Africa but their range has been reduced by an estimated 66% and now they live in isolated populations. They are declining in large portions of their range, particularly outside of protected areas.

Habitat & Range

Leopards are highly adaptable and widely distributed throughout Africa, although mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. They are found in desert and semi-desert regions of southern Africa in Namibia and Botswana and in the savanna grasslands of East and Southern Africa. There are also remnant populations in arid regions of North Africa. Southern Africa now has the healthiest leopard population of their entire range.

Diet

Carnivores, leopards prefer to hunt medium-sized antelopes such as gazelle and impala. However, their diet is very varied and they will feed on insects, reptiles, birds and small mammals and larger ungulates. Where competitors are present, leopards will cache their kills under thick bushes or in trees.

Threats

The principal threats are habitat fragmentation, reduced prey base and human-wildlife conflict. Where farms have been created on leopard habitat, they may feed on livestock and can be killed in retaliation. Leopards are also targets for trophy hunters. If poorly managed, trophy hunting can be detrimental to the population

Conservation

Tusk supports a number of initiatives aimed at combatting conflict between farmers and carnivores such as education programmes to teach effective farming techniques to better protect livestock from predation.

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