Leopard - Panthera pardus

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Lion - Panthera Leo | Leopard - Panthera pardus | Cheetah - Acinonyx jubatus | Caracal - Felis caracal | Serval - Felis serval | African Wildcat - Felis lybica | Small spotted Cat - Felis nigripes

 


Afrikaans Luiperd 
 Zulu,ShangaanTsonga,Venda Ngwe, Ingwe Tswana,Sotho Nkwe,Inkwe
R.W. Min 15⅜" Max 19"
S.C.I Min 14" Max 19" Measurement Method 18

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Tracks
F 10 cm
H 12 cm

Distribution

Dung
6-13 cm
Contains hair and bone fragments
Deposited in prominent places

Unusual features/differences from similar animals

More powerful body thancheetah and serval. Skin has black spots forming rosettes on the flanks, hips and shoulders. The cheetah has single spots and the serval has spots and stripes.

Like human fingerprints and irises, the spots or line of spots just above the whisker line can be used to identify individual leopards.

 

Visible Male/Female Differences

Males are larger than females. Females have two pairs of nipples on the belly.

Habitat and Distribution

Extensive habitat; usually associated with broken rocky country or forests, and dependent on good cover for shelter and hunting. Not dependent on water. Does not occur in true dessert. Even lives in or near towns and cities.

Diet

A large variety of vertebrate prey from mice to large antelope and baby giraffe, including hares, dassies, primates, small carnivores, porcupines, birds, reptiles and fish. Main prey are medium-sized antelope such as impala and springbok. Also eats fruit and scavenges.

Reproduction

Litters of 1-6 cubs are born after a gestation of 100 days. Cub mortality is sometimes more than 50%. The cub's eyes open at 6 days and they are weaned from 6-12 weeks. Independent at 18 months; sexually mature at 2-4 years. Cubs are born in heavy cover, caves or holes in the ground. They first accompany their mother on hunts at four months, and make their first kills at five months. Leopard cubs are killed by lions and spotted hyenas.

Behavior and Habits

Both sexes are solitary and territorial. Most active at night, but may be seen during the day especially when it is overcast. Rests in thick cover, in caves or in trees with dense canopies. They use the classical feline hunting technique: a stalk, a rush and a pounce on the prey and a killing bite to the back of the skull a suffocating hold or the throat for larger prey. The guts of larger prey is pulled out and sometimes covered with soil. Leopards also cover carcasses with soil, litter or branches or taken into trees to avoid other scavengers. Leopards have no problem eating rotten and they will feed on a carcass for up to 4 days. The fur of mammals and feathers of birds are plucked before eating the prey. Male territories can be up to 400 square km and overlap up to six female territories. Territorial males have priority of access to females. Both sexes spray urine to mark territories.

Sounds

A sawing rasp is the most distinctive call. Females give more strokes per call and more calls per calling period, and have longer pauses between calls, and longer calling periods. Most calling occurs in the early evening and in the dry season. Also growls, spits and snarls in aggressive interactions.

Field sign

Dung is 6-13cm long with tapered ends. Contains hair and bone fragments. Scrapes on the ground. Often left exposed sometimes in prominent places. Carcasses stashed in trees, feathers and fur plucked from kills. Claw marks on bark.



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