While leopards can be found in many countries in Africa, a sighting of this awe-inspiring animal never ceases to be an amazing experience, even for wildlife environmentalists. Its beautiful spotted coat and its graceful movements hold a contained power that is unique from other big cats.
A few weeks ago, the Africa Wild Trails team discovered leopards in one of the places they have positioned their camera traps. Camera traps are remotely activated cameras equipped with a motion/light sensors used all over Africa to track and understand animal movements. When one of the camera traps caught an image of a leopard, the team was surprised as they initially had no idea that leopards were even in that area.
This leopard sighting was the inspiration for this blog post. To learn more about leopards, we’ve gathered answers to five of the most commonly asked questions about this wild cat.
Where Do Leopards Live?
Leopards have been shown to be highly adaptable to many places, both in warm and cold climates. They can be found in a wide range of habitats including deserts, semi-deserts, savannah grasslands, mountainous environments, rocky landscapes and riverine forests.
Because of their adaptability, leopards can be found in many regions of the world including Sub-Saharan Africa, Arabian Peninsula, Central Asia, India, Russia, Turkey, China, Java Islands and Sri-Lanka. Leopards are native to around 35 countries in Africa.
What Do Leopards Eat?
Leopards are carnivorous mammals that are not very selective of their meat. They are known to have varied diets as they hunt and feed on pigs, deer, bugs, fish, antelope, monkeys, birds and even rodents! They can feed on pretty much anything available.
Because they are skilled climbers, they often drag their prey up into the trees to prevent scavengers stealing their hunt.
Why the Leopard Got its Spots?
While many children would refer to a famous tale by Rudyard Kipling of the same title, there is no final conclusion yet on the reason why leopards have spots. There have been many theories regarding this conundrum including having spots as a means to attract the opposite sex or as a social signaling function.
However, one study that used mathematical analysis on leopard spots arrived at the conclusion that the spots in leopards are closely tied to their environments. This assumes that the complex spots are required by these animals in order to camouflage and blend into their environments for survival.
What’s Faster, a Leopard or Cheetah?
Cheetahs are the fastest land mammals on earth with a top speed of 112 kilometres per hour. Leopards’ top speed only reaches 88.5 kilometres per hours. While Cheetahs are faster, leopards are much stronger as they are stockier and bulkier. Cheetahs are built for speed which sacrifices their muscles.
Are Leopards Endangered?
Leopard populations are decreasing and are considered Vulnerable, which is one step away from being endangered. While leopards as a species are not endangered, certain sub-species are critically endangered including populations in North Africa, Middle East and Russia.
The primary threats to leopards include loss of habitat, being hunted for their soft fur, and being killed when they become a threat to livestock.