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African Leopard
African Leopard

Class

Mammal

Species

Feline

The African Leopard is a leopard subspecies. In 2008, the IUCN classified leopards as Near Threatened, stating that they may soon qualify for the Vulnerable status due to habitat loss and fragmentation. They are becoming increasingly rare outside protected areas. The trend of the population is decreasing.


DescriptionEdit

African leopards exhibit great variation in coat color, depending on location and habitat. Coat color varies from pale yellow to deep gold or tawny, and sometimes black, and is patterned with black rosettes while the head, lower limbs and belly are spotted with solid black. Male leopards are larger, averaging 60 kg (130 lb) with 91 kg (201 lb) being the maximum weight attained by a male. Females weigh about 35 to 40 kg (77 to 88 lb) in average.

Leopards inhabiting the mountains of the Cape Provinces appear physically different from leopards further north. Their average weight may be only half that of the more northerly leopard.

HabitatEdit

African leopards used to occur in most of sub-Saharan Africa, occupying both rainforest and arid desert habitats. They were found in all habitats with annual rainfall above 50 mm (2.0 in), and can penetrate areas with less than this amount of rainfall along river courses.

BehaviorEdit

Leopards are generally most active between sunset and sunrise, and kill more prey at this time. They have an exceptional ability to adapt to changes in prey availability, and have a very broad diet.

FoodEdit

Small prey are taken where large ungulates are less common. The known prey of leopards ranges from dung beetles to adult elands, which can reach 900 kg (2,000 lb). Their diet includes rodents, birds, small and large antelopes, hyraxes and hares, and arthropods. They preyed mostly on impala, both adult and young, and caught some Thomson's gazelles in the dry season. Occasionally, they successfully hunted warthog, dik-dik, reedbuck, duiker, steenbok, wildebeest and topi calves, jackal, hare, guinea fowl and starling. They were less successful in hunting zebras, kongonis, giraffes, mongooses, genets, hyrax and small birds. Scavenging from the carcasses of large animals made up a small proportion of their food.

RelatedEdit

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