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Leopards (Panthera pardus) are one of the five 'big cats' of the genus Panthera (the others are the lion, tiger, jaguar, and snow leopard). There are 9 living subspecies of leopard. Leopards are native to Africa and parts of Asia.

Leopards, Jaguars and Black panthers[edit]

Leopards are noted for their short sleek coat that varies greatly from pale straw, golden, and gray buff to bright, deep ochre and chestnut, tawny or light yellow in warm, dry habitats to a darker, reddish-orange and sometimes black (found mostly in wetter, dense forests). Large black spots grouped into rosettes on the shoulders, upper arms, back, flanks and haunches, and smaller scattered spots on the lower limbs, head, throat and chest, and the belly has large black blotches. They are also considered the most dangerous species among felines caused by their unpredictable and aggressive character. This large cat is sometimes confused in appearance with the South American jaguar, but the leopard though is small, less stocky and unlike the jaguar, its rosette markings are generally smaller and have no internal spots with smaller heads and longer tails. Jaguars are also generally shaped like tigers, but of course this can only be found out by very close examination. All black or melanistic leopards, sometimes commonly called ‘Black panthers’, are born in the same litter as normally marked cats and also carry the rosette markings, although these are masked by the darkness of the fur.

Diet and behavior[edit]

Like most other members of the cat family, leopards are carnivores. Their prey consists of antelopes, deer, zebras, monkeys, black-backed jackals, bat-eared foxes, and genets. They are also skillful tree climbers, and they will often haul their kills up into a tree, to keep them out of reach of other carnivores.


There are 9 living subspecies of leopard, two of which are extinct, along with their scientific names, include the following:

  • Panthera pardus pardus - African leopard
  • Panthera pardus fusca - Indian leopard
  • Panthera pardus adersi - Zanzibar leopard (extinct)
  • Panthera pardus spelaea - European Ice Age leopard (extinct)
  • Panthera pardus japonensis - North-Chinese leopard
  • Panthera pardus tulliana - Persian leopard
  • Panthera pardus melas - Javan leopard
  • Panthera pardus nimr - Arabian leopard
  • Panthera pardus orientalis - Amur leopard
  • Panthera pardus delacouri - Indochinese leopard
  • Panthera pardus kotiya - Sri Lankan leopard

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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