· Leopards are graceful and powerful big cats closely related to lions, tigers, and jaguars. They live in sub-Saharan Africa, northeast Africa, Central Asia, India, and China.Leopards are nocturnal animals, meaning they are active at night. Leopards are solitary, preferring to live alone.They are able to climb trees, even when carrying heavy prey, and often choose to rest on tree branches during the day.
· Leopards come in a wide variety of coat colors, from a light buff or tawny in warmer, dryer areas to a dark shade in deep forests. The spots, or rosettes, are circular in East African leopards but square in southern African leopards.
· Leopards are renowned for their agility. They run up to 58km/h and can leap 6m horizontally and 3m vertically. They are also very strong swimmers.
· Leopards eat small hoofstock such as gazelle, impala, deer and wildebeest. On occasion, they may also hunt monkeys, rodents and birds. They often bring their prey up into the branches of a tree to eat it and protect it from other predators and scavengers.
· As they grow, cubs learn to hunt small animals. The leopard is a cunning, stealthy hunter, and its prey ranges from strong-scented carrion, fish, reptiles and birds to mammals such as rodents, hares, hyraxes, warthogs, antelopes, monkeys and baboons.
· Leopards protect their food from other animals by dragging it high up into the trees. A leopard will often leave their prey up in the tree for days and return only when they are hungry.
· A litter includes two or three cubs, whose coats appear to be smoky gray as the rosettes are not yet clearly delineated. The female abandons her nomadic wandering until the cubs are large enough to accompany her. She keeps them hidden for about the first 8 weeks, giving them meat when they are 6 or 7 weeks old and suckling them for 3 months or longer.
· Leopards tend to have distinctive dark spots called rosettes, which create beautiful patterns against their otherwise light fur. Black leopards however have dark fur which makes it difficult to see the spots. They appear almost solid black and are often called black panthers.
· When a female leopard is ready to mate she will give a scent and rub her body on the trees to leave her smells there. Male leopards either smell the females scent or hear her call to know that she is ready to mate.
· Like cats kept as companions, leopards will growl when angry and purr when content. They have various vocalizations such as a rasping cough which they perform to announce their presence to other leopards.
· The leopard is the most elusive and secretive of the large felids. They are extremely difficult to trace and locate in the wild.
· Leopards have long been preyed upon by man. Their soft, dense, beautiful fur has been used for ceremonial robes and coats. Different parts of the leopard the tail, claws and whiskers are popular as fetishes. These cats have a reputation as wanton killers, but research does not support the claim. In some areas farmers try to exterminate them, while in others leopards are considered symbols of wisdom. Leopards do well in captivity, and some have lived as long as 21 years.
· Leopards are predominantly solitary animals that have large territories. While male territories are larger than females and tend to overlap, individuals usually only tolerate intrusion into ranges for mating. They mark their ranges with urine and leave claw marks on trees to warn others to stay away.s