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African leopard

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African leopard
Close up african leopard.jpg
Scientific Classification
Trinomial name

Panthera pardus pardus

African leopards are a subspecies of leopard known by the scientific name Panthera pardus pardus. They are solitary, arboreal, and nocturnal animals the latter of which perhaps the result of human pressures and hunting. They are one of the strongest predators and can carry twice their weight on their back up a tree.[1] The African leopards' lifespan is around 12 years in the wild.

African leopards are sometimes confused with the jaguar.

Anatomy

African leopard in the zoo

Leopards are spotted, with short round ears, stocky short legs, and a long tail to help them balance in trees. Leopards have very sharp claws to hook into the trees while they are climbing and ripping apart prey.[2] They usually have a light buff or tawny coat. The brown or black irregular circles are called "rosettes". These rosettes cover the whole leopard giving it an excellent camouflage.[3] The color of their fur depends on habitat of the leopard.[4] There height to shoulder is 20-24 inches. There length is 40-50 inches and they weigh around 80-175 pounds.[5] The male leopards are larger than the females.[6]

Reproduction

Mating is unseasonal. A leopard's gestation period is between 90-112 days.[7] When the female is in heat hey come together for 6-7 days. The male returns to his territory after this. The female raises the young on her own. Each liter has around 1-3 young.[8] Leopard cubs are hidden for the first two months. The mother takes the cubs hunting when they reach about 4 months. They are taught how to catch small animals.[9]

Ecology

African Leopard up high on a branch

The African leopard can live in a variety of habitats. From tropical forest to hot desserts they can be found. They sleep in caves, rock shelters and drape over branches during the day. They never stay in one spot, they are constantly moving. They mark there territories with their urine and leave claw marks on trees. African leopards eat everything from insects to monkeys. Leopards also enjoy eating birds, fish, rodents, zebra, reptiles, baboons and even large antelope. They kill more than enough prey and store the rest in the trees for later. [10]

Uses of the Leopard

Leopards are to great value to humans. They have always felt pressure among humans though. Sadly some hunters view hunting as a recreational sport and say leopards are the main target. Unfortunately their pattern is very attractive and fashionable. We like to use their fur for clothing such as, fur jackets, and robes. The leopard in some cultures is a symbol of wisdom. Other parts of the leopard are used for healing also. [11]

Related References