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The leopard Panthera pardus, is a member of the Felidae family and the smallest of the four "big cats" in the genus Panthera, the other three being the tiger, lion, and jaguar. The leopard was once distributed across eastern and southern Asia and Africa, from Siberia to South Africa, but its range of distribution has decreased radically because of hunting and loss of habitat. It is now chiefly found in sub-Saharan Africa; there are also fragmented populations in Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Indochina, Malaysia, and China. Because of its declining range and population, it is listed as a "Near Threatened" species on the IUCN Red List.

Compared to other members of the Felidae family, the leopard has relatively short legs and a long body with a large skull. It is similar in appearance to the jaguar, but is smaller and more slightly built. Its fur is marked with rosettes similar to those of the jaguar, but the leopard's rosettes are smaller and more densely packed, and do not usually have central spots as the jaguars do. Both leopards and jaguars that are melanistic (completely black or very dark) are known as black panthers.

The species' success in the wild is in part due to its opportunistic hunting behavior, its adaptability to habitats, its ability to run at speeds approaching 58 kilometres per hour (36 mph), its unequaled ability to climb trees even when carrying a heavy carcass, and its notorious ability for stealth. The leopard consumes virtually any animal that it can hunt down and catch. Its habitat ranges from rainforest to desert terrains.

Leopards have the largest distribution of any wild cat, occurring widely in eastern and central Africa, although populations have shown a declining trend and are fragmented outside of sub-Saharan Africa. Within sub-Saharan Africa, the species is still numerous and even thriving in marginal habitats where other large cats have disappeared. But populations in North Africa may be extinct.

Data on their distribution in Asia are not consistent — populations in southwest and central Asia are small and fragmented; in the northeast, they are critically endangered; but in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and China, leopards are still relatively abundant. Of the species as a whole, its number are greater than those of other Panthera species, all of which face more acute conservation concerns.

Leopard
Panthera pardus -Ngala Game Reserve, Limpopo, South Africa -with kill in tree-8
Leopard with fresh kill.

Range

Eastern and Central Africa, india and china. Is found in grasslands woodlands and riverine forests.

Size

Weight: 23-91kgs (51-200lbs)

Length: 0.94-1.65 metres

Body Hieght: 60-110 cm (24-43 in).

Diet

They have a very broad diet ranging from dung beetles to ginat elands but they mostly hunt antelope and gazelle.

Weapons and Traits

Has a mouth full of sharp teeth, sharp claws, is an excellent climber and can drag 3 times it's own body wieght into a tree, has great night vision.

Battle Status

Victorious over the Cougar.

Leopards live mainly in grasslands, woodlands, and riverine forests. They are usually associated with savanna and rainforest, but leopards are exceptionally adaptable: in the Russian Far East, they inhabit temperate forests where winter temperatures reach a low of −25 °C (−13 °F).

Home ranges of male leopards vary between 30 km2 (12 sq mi) and 78 km2 (30 sq mi), and of females between 15 to 16 km2 (5.8 to 6.2 sq mi). Virtually all sources suggest that males do have larger home ranges. There seems to be little or no overlap in territory among males, although overlap exists between the sexes; one radio-collar analysis in the Ivory Coast found a female home range completely enclosed within a male's.

Research in a conservation area in Kenya showed similar territory sizes and sex differential: 32.8 km2 (12.7 sq mi) average ranges for males, and 14 km2 (5.4 sq mi) for females.

In Nepal, somewhat larger male ranges have been found at about 48 km2 (19 sq mi), while female ranges at 17 km2 (6.6 sq mi); female home ranges decreased to 5 to 7 km2 (1.9 to 2.7 sq mi) when young cubs were present, while the sexual difference in range size seemed to be in positive proportion to overall increase.

Studies of leopard home range size have tended to focus on protected areas, which may have led to skewed data; as of the mid-1980s, only 13% of the leopard range actually fell within a protected area. However, significant variations in the size of home ranges have been suggested across the leopard's range. Research in Namibia that focused on spatial ecology in farmlands outside of protected areas revealed ranges that were consistently above 100 km2 (39 sq mi) with some more than 300 km2 (120 sq mi). Admitting that their data were at odds with others, the researchers found little or no sexual variation in the size of territories.

Aggressive encounters have been observed. Two of five males studied over a period of a year at a game reserve in South Africa died, both violently. One was initially wounded in a male–male territorial battle over a carcass; taken in by researchers, it was released after a successful convalescence only to be killed by a different male a few months later. A second was killed by another predator, possibly a spotted hyena. A third of the five was badly wounded in intraspecific fighting, but recovered.

Leopards must compete for food and shelter with other large predators such as lions, tigers, spotted hyenas, and both African and Asiatic wild dogs. These animals may steal the leopard's kill or devour its young, though lions are most likely to kill and not eat the young if they're discovered. In some areas of Africa, troops of large baboon species (potentially leopard prey themselves) will kill and sometimes eat leopard young if they discover them. Occasionally, nile crocodiles may predate on leopards. Leopards co-exist alongside these other predators by hunting for different types of prey and by avoiding areas frequented by them. Lions are occasionally successful in climbing trees and fetching leopard kills. In the Kalahari desert, leopards frequently lose kills to the brown hyena, if the leopard is unable to move the kill into a tree. Single brown hyenas have been observed charging at and displacing male leopards from kills.

Resource partitioning occurs where leopards share their range with lions or tigers. Leopards tend to take smaller prey, usually less than 75 kg (170 lb), where the larger cats are present. In the Chitwan National Park in Nepal, leopards killed prey ranging from less than 25 kg (55 lb) to 100 kg (220 lb) in weight with most kills in the 25–50 kg (55–110 lb) range; tigers killed more prey in the 50–100 kg (110–220 lb) range. In the tropical forests of India’s Nagarhole National Park, tigers selected prey weighing more than 176 kg (390 lb), whereas leopards selected prey in the 30–175 kg (66–390 lb) range. The average weights of leopard prey was 37.6 kg (83 lb), and of tiger prey was 91.5 kg (202 lb) with a bias towards adult males of chital, sambar and wild pig, and young gaur. In tropical forest they do not always avoid the larger cats by hunting at different times. With relatively abundant prey, tigers and leopards were seen to successfully coexist without competitive exclusion or inter-species dominance hierarchies that may be more common to the savanna. In areas with high tiger populations, such as in the central parts of India’s Kanha National Park, leopards are not permanent residents, but transients. They were common near villages at the periphery of the park and outside the park.

Battle against the CougarEdit

A cougar that escaped from an exotic wildlife park prowls the plains of Africa, looking for some prey. Up in the trees above a male leopard watches the cougar tentatively. Seeing the cougar as a threat the leopard drops out of the tree, landing right in front of the cougar. The big cat flinches back as the leopard swipes his paw at the cougar, his claws giving the cougar a gash on the cheek. The mountain lion then lunges forward, grabbing the leopards neck with it's huge paws and trying to clamp his jaws around it's neck. The leopard swipes furiously at it's aggressor and manages to dislodge it from the leopard's neck. It then proceeds to grab the puma's foot in it's jaw and digs its large fangs into the cougar's foot. The cougar yelps in pain and viciously slashes the leopards face with it's claws until the leopard releases its grip. Even then the cougar continues it's relentless assault forcing the leopard to flee to the tree it was in lying in before, with the cougar in hot pursuit.

The leopard scrambles as far out across the branch as it can before being trapped at the edge of the branch. It turns to face it's pursuer, who is limping quietly behind the leopard. The leopard lunges at the cougar and the two grapple for a short while before the leopard flings the cougar out of the tree, a snapping sound echoing through the plains as the cougar snaps it's thigh bone of the hard ground below. The cougar pulls it self to it's feet weakly and lets out a quite snarl before limping off into the bushes. The leopard roars in victory and begins to tend to his wounds.

Winner Leopard

Experts Opinion

The leopard won because of it's larger size and superior strength.

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