leopard fact sheet - World Animal Foundation

Endangered in Asia and parts of Africa. Threatened south of, and
including, Gabon, Congo, Zaire, Uganda, Kenya in Africa.
Leopards are medium-sized cats found in a range of colors from pale
yellow to gray to chestnut. A leopard’s shoulders, upper arms, back
and haunches are marked with dark spots in a rosette pattern, while
the head, chest and throat are marked with small black spots. Large
black spots cover the leopard’s white belly. Black, or melanistic,
leopards are common, especially in dense forests.
Leopards are 1.5 to 2.6 feet tall at the shoulder. They are three to six
feet long, with a tail that is two to 3.5 feet long. Males weigh between
82 and 200 pounds, females are slightly smaller.
Leopards live for up to 20 years.
Leopards are found throughout most of Africa and Asia from the
middle east to the Soviet Union, Korea, China, India, and Malaysia.
Leopards are found in a variety of habitats including forests,
mountains, grassland and deserts.
Leopards eat small hoofstock such as gazelle, impala, deer and
wildebeast. On occasion, they may also hunt monkeys, rodents and birds.
Leopards are nocturnal animals, meaning they are active at night. During the day, they rest in thick brush or in trees.
Leopards are solitary, preferring to live alone. They are very agile and good swimmers. They are able to leap more than
20 feet.
Following a 90 to 105 day gestation, one to six kittens are born. The average litter size is two or three. Kittens weigh about
one pound when they are born. They will stay with their mother for 18 to 24 months.
The big cats, especially the spotted cats, are easy to confuse for those who see them in captivity or in photographs. The
leopard is closely related to, and appears very similar to, the jaguar; it is less often confused with the cheetah. The
ranges, habitats, and activities of the three cats make them easy to distinguish in the wild.
Since wild leopards live only in Africa and Asia, while
wild jaguars live only in the Americas, there is no
possibility of confusing them in the wild. There are
also visual markings that set them apart. Leopards do
not have the spots within the rosettes that jaguars
always have, and the jaguar's spots are larger than
the leopard's. The Amur leopard and the North
Chinese leopard are occasional exceptions. The
leopard is smaller and less stocky than the jaguar,
although it is more heavyset than the cheetah.
Besides appearance, the leopard and jaguar have
similar behavior patterns. Jaguars can adapt to a
range of habitats from rainforest to ranchlands, while
leopards are even more adaptable ranging in from
deserts and mountains, savanna and woodlands.
The cheetah, although its range overlaps extensively with that of the leopard, is easily distinguished. The leopard is
heavier, stockier, and has a larger head in proportion to the body. The cheetah tends to run rather fast and goes much
more quickly than the leopard. The cheetah also has dark 'teardrop' like markings running down the sides of its face,
whereas the leopard does not. Cheetahs are usually diurnal, while leopards are more active at night (nocturnal); cheetahs
are also exclusively terrestrial (except when young), while leopards often climb trees.
Prior to the human induced changes of the last few hundred years, Leopards were the most widely distributed of all felids
other than the domestic cat: they were found through most of Africa (with the exception of the Sahara Desert), as well as
parts of Asia Minor. They are still found in the Middle East, India, Pakistan, China, Siberia, much of mainland South East
Asia, and the islands of Java and Sri Lanka.
The leopard is doing surprisingly well for a large predator. It is estimated that there are as many as 500,000 leopards
worldwide. But like many other big cats, leopards are increasingly under threat of habitat loss and are facing increased
hunting pressure. Because of their stealthy habits and camouflage, they can go undetected even in close proximity to
human settlements. Despite the leopard's abilities, it is no match for habitat destruction and poachers, and several
subspecies are endangered, namely, the Amur, Anatolian, Barbary, North Chinese, and South Arabian leopards.
Fur trade, human encroachment.
Animals used in the circus spend the majority of the year imprisoned in small cages or on chains, traveling from show to
show. The training endured by circus animals is almost always based on intimidation; trainers must break the spirit of the
animals in order to control them. While zoos and aquariums may appear to be educational and conservation-oriented,
most are designed with the needs and desires of the visitors in mind, not the needs of the animals. Many animals in zoos
and aquariums exhibit abnormal behavior as a result of being deprived of their natural environments and social
structures. Some zoos and aquariums do rescue some animals and work to save endangered species, but most animals
in zoos were either captured from the wild or bred in captivity for the purpose of public display, not species protection.
The vast majority of captive-bred animals will never be returned to the wild. When the facility breeds too many animals
they become "surplus" and often are sold to laboratories, traveling shows, shooting ranches, or to private individuals who
may be unqualified to care for them.
*CITES, Appendix I, Endangered Species Act
*Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international treaty with more
than 144 member countries. Appendix I listed species cannot be traded commercially. Appendix II listed species can be
traded commercially only if it does not harm their survival.