Leopards are a species of carnivorous mammals belonging to the feline family. Leopard (aka leopard) is a representative of the panther genus. Research proves that the ancestors of leopards originated in Asia. And only then they settled the African continent, where the modern leopard later developed.
The leopard is a large cat, which is characterized by an elongated muscular body, slightly compressed from the sides. Each individual has a unique location for these spots, which is sometimes used for identification.
The leopard is predominantly nocturnal. Representatives of this species keep one by one. All external senses are well developed in the leopard. The exception is the sense of smell. A leopard's roar can spread over several kilometers (especially in mountainous areas). The voice of representatives of this species consists of alternating high and low sounds.
Pregnancy of a female leopard lasts about three months, after which one or two (rarely three) cubs are born, which after two and a half years reach puberty. The life span of leopards in the wild on average ranges between ten and eleven years. In captivity, they can live up to twenty-one years.
The decline in the leopard population has been steady. In the last century, the leopard was listed in the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The leopard is included in the Red Book of the Russian Federation. The leopon is a hybrid of a lioness and a male leopard. The jagopard is a hybrid of a female leopard and a male jaguar.
Leopard is a member of the genus Panthera. The leopard was first scientifically described by the Swedish naturalist Karl Linnaeus (1707-1778) in his scientific work. The leopard, however, was assigned to the Panthera genus only in 1929.
The ancestors of the leopard are native to Asia. The study of the evolution of this species allows us to draw just such a conclusion. The data was obtained mainly from the analysis of the found fossils. Research in the field of molecular phylogenetics was also of great importance. With the help of fossil remains, the approximate time of the appearance of the ancestors of the leopard was obtained - this happened about 3.8 million years ago. The data of molecular phylogenetic analysis fully confirm the existence of a close relationship between representatives of the genus Panthera. In addition, this kind of analysis allows us to conclude that the leopard, much earlier than the jaguar and the lion, separated from the common ancestral line. Scientific publications record the fact that it was Asia that became the birthplace of the ancestor of the leopard. Later he settled in the African continent. The modern leopard is believed to have originated between 470,000 and 825,000 years ago. Place of origin - Africa. A little later, the leopard settled in Asia.
Different leopards have different weights and sizes. These parameters depend on the geographic habitat of the leopard. Individuals whose habitat is open areas are larger in size and mass, compared to individuals whose habitat is forest areas. The body length of leopards (excluding the length of the tail) varies from ninety to one hundred and ninety centimeters. The length of the tail itself ranges from sixty to one hundred and ten centimeters. Females (weighing 40-65 kilograms) are about a third smaller than males (weighing 60-80 kilograms). It is very rare to find males whose weight reaches one hundred kilograms.
Adult leopards tend to have thirty teeth. As, however, and for most other representatives of the feline. Upper jaw - six incisors, two canines, three premolars, one molar. The lower jaw has six incisors, two canines, two premolars and one molar. On the sides of a long tongue, leopards have special tubercles. Their purpose is to separate the meat from the victim's skeleton. The tubercles are covered with keratinized epithelium.
Leopards are endowed with short, thick hair. Summer fur is less dense and shorter than winter fur. For example, in the Far Eastern leopard species, by the winter season, the wool grows to a length of seven centimeters. The color of the leopard fur can be either yellowish and gray (in Central Asian subspecies), or rusty-brown. The Far Eastern subspecies is endowed with a reddish-yellow fur color. The coloration of younger individuals is lighter. The main background of the fur is a greyish-yellow color, and sometimes even off-white.
The leopard is a spotted beast. On the legs, body, tail of leopards are scattered black spots of small and medium size. Different leopards have different spot sizes - for example, Asian leopards have larger spots, while African leopards are endowed with fur with smaller black spots. By themselves, the spots can be collected in sockets of 3-4 pieces or be solid - their location is unique for each individual individual (like fingerprints for a person). This characteristic of leopards is sometimes used by researchers to identify individual leopards in the wild. Spotted camouflage is essential for a leopard to camouflage while hunting.
Melanistic leopards are black panthers. Found in Southeast Asia. However, to think that the skin of these panthers is completely black is erroneous, since you can always see bleeding spots on it. The dark fur of these leopards is essential for camouflage in the dense thickets of the forest. An interesting fact is that black panthers can be born in the same brood with cubs that have a normal color. Generally, panthers are more aggressive than other leopards.
The distribution area of the leopard is very wide. The historical area of distribution of this species covered a significant part of Africa (with the exception of the Sahara desert), Transcaucasia, Western Asia, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, China, as well as the islands of Java, Sri Lanka and Zanzibar. Nowadays, in some territories, the leopard is not found or has already become extinct. Such territories include Zanzibar, the Sinai Peninsula. In other areas, the leopard distribution area was divided into separate populations. Many of them are located at a considerable distance from one another. In the Russian Federation, leopards live in the Ussuri region. They can be found in the North Caucasus. Leopards can be found on the African continent in the jungle, semi-deserts, savannas, and mountains. They spread throughout the territory from Morocco to the Cape of Good Hope. Only the driest regions of Namibia and the Sahara Desert have not been colonized by leopards in Africa.
The leopard is a solitary beast. The area of an individual plot can be as small as eight square kilometers (this is relatively small), and up to four hundred kilometers. The area depends on the region, abundance of food, relief.
A leopard can attack a person. It is extremely rare if a person does not pose a danger to a leopard. If an individual is wounded by a hunter, then an attack cannot be avoided; its results can be fatal. Cannibals are much less common among leopards than, for example, among tigers or lions.
Man-eating leopards are sick or old individuals. Man-eating leopards are very, very rare. Indeed, these are mainly sick or old individuals that physiologically cannot hunt ungulates. For example, there is a known case (took place in the twenties of the last century) when one leopard from India had one hundred and twenty-five only officially confirmed murders of people on the account. The "Rudraprayag man-eater" acted as follows: under cover of night he entered villages and attacked people right in their huts or courtyards. In addition to old and sick leopards, cannibals can be representatives of this species, who have suffered from porcupine quills and have become disabled as a result. Such individuals lose mobility. The latter leads to the fact that the leopard is not able to hunt for its usual prey and becomes a man-eater.
Leopard prey can be very large. The mass of the victim can reach nine hundred kilograms. And this is despite the relatively small size of the leopard itself. Representatives of this species are excellent at climbing trees. Often it is the tree that becomes the place of daytime rest. Sometimes the leopard freezes on it, waiting for prey, but mostly it hunts on the ground. The leopard acts as follows: it sneaks up on the selected victim and freezes at the distance of a jump to it. Having chosen the right moment, the leopard jumps on the victim and begins to strangle it. However, if the jump is unsuccessful, then the leopard does not rush in pursuit of prey. If the prey is large, then after the treat, the leopard brings the remains to the tree. This is necessary to conserve production. There are cases when representatives of the leopard species did not hide to lure prey, but instead began to loudly slap their paws. After this procedure, the leopards calmed down, and the perplexed victim simply did not know in which direction the danger awaited her.
Ungulates play the leading role in the diet of leopards. These are roe deer, antelopes, deer, etc. During the period of starvation, leopards can eat birds, monkeys, and rodents. Sometimes even reptiles become victims of leopards. Wolves and foxes suffer from attacks of leopards. Representatives of the leopard species do not disdain carrion. Often they even steal prey from either other predators or their fellows.
Leopards are characterized by the ability to reproduce all year round. Not entirely true. This ability is possessed by leopards inhabiting the southern regions of their habitat. And, for example, in the Far East estrus, i.e. the period of sexual activity in female leopards lasts from late autumn to early winter. The leopard, which can even be called a silent beast (he rarely gives out his voice), during the estrus period violates this "life attitude" - the roar of males is also accompanied by fights. Leopards are pregnant for three months. Cubs are born blind. Usually a female gives birth to one or two cubs, sometimes three. Crevices and caves act as a shelter for newborn cubs - the main thing is that the place is protected and secluded. Young leopards reach sexual maturity at the age of two and a half years (females even a little earlier). Interestingly, leopards grow and reach sexual maturity much faster than tigers.
Leopard numbers are declining. Moreover, this process takes place throughout the entire habitat of the species. The decline has been steady. The main threat to leopards is reduced food supply and changes in natural habitats. In addition, a large number of leopards are shot annually for the needs of oriental medicine. When trade in leopard skins was an important problem, many representatives of this species died because of this. However, in our time, this kind of trade has faded into the background.
The leopard is a coveted hunting trophy. Since ancient times, hunting for leopards has been carried out throughout the species' range. The leopard was exterminated most massively in the past and the century before last - the houses of aristocrats in different parts of the world were often decorated with stuffed animals and leopard skins. From now on, hunting leopards is prohibited. In principle, the ban does not prevent poaching from thriving, which affects many areas. Moreover, in some countries of the African continent there are legal hunting safaris, where absolutely anyone can hunt a leopard from an ambush for a certain fee.
Amur (Far Eastern) leopards are on the verge of extinction. The population of these leopards is currently in a very critical condition. As of 2007, its number is only 25-34 individuals. In addition, approximately one hundred representatives of the Far Eastern leopard are found in various zoos around the world. One of the most important ways to preserve the Amur leopard population is to breed them in captivity.
Poaching is the main reason for such a dangerous decline in the Amur leopard population. The main reason is also attributed to the violation of the habitat, which takes place due to the creation of networks of railways and highways, the expansion of logging operations. Forest fires and a decrease in the number of ungulates are of great importance. Closely related crosses also do not have a positive effect. According to experts, in order to bring the population of Amur leopards out of such a critical situation, it is necessary to think about creating a single protected area in Primorye (where the Amur leopard lives nowadays), since individual reserves cannot cope with such an important task. In early times, the Far Eastern leopard inhabited the entire territory of Primorye, China and North Korea.
The leopon is a hybrid of a lioness and a male leopard. For the first time officially the existence of a leopon was recorded in 1910 in India. In the middle of the last century, such a hybrid was purposefully bred in zoos in Germany, Italy, and Japan. Hybrids are not capable of reproduction. The leopon looks like this: the head is similar to that of a lion, and the rest of the body is similar to that of a leopard. Leopons are between the sizes of leopards and lions. Male leopons can be endowed with a mane, whose length reaches twenty centimeters. The skin of leopons is spotty, but the spots are much more often brown than black. The tail of a leopon, like a lion, has a tassel.
Clouded leopard is a subspecies of leopard. Clouded leopard also belongs to the feline family, native to Southeast Asia, but is a separate species. The clouded leopard is only vaguely similar to the leopard. C reads an ancient species that probably gave rise to the current large feline. The Clouded Leopard's torso is approximately ninety centimeters long and its tail is eighty centimeters long. The mass varies from twenty to thirty kilograms. The general background of the coat is yellowish, on which large black spots are scattered.