African Leopard - Character, Diet and Habitat

African leopard: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. Leopards are felines which, although they do not reach the...

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Leopards are felines which, although they do not reach the measurements of their cousins, such as lions and tigers, are animals as fascinating as they are magnificent. The species is identified as Panthera pardus, and there are several subspecies or types, which are distinguished by certain anatomical characteristics and by the fact that they live in different habitats.

One of the subspecies is commonly called the African leopard (Panthera pardus pardus, and in this PlanetAnimal file, we invite you to learn more about this big feline.Continue reading this article to learn all about its characteristics, habits and diet!

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  • Africa
  • Angola
  • Cameroon
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia
  • Gabon
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Kenya
  • Liberia
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Uganda
  • Republic of South Africa
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Characteristics of the African leopard

The African leopard is a magnificent feline, whose main characteristics are:

  • There is a marked sexual dimorphism: males are larger and heavier than females.
  • Their weight is variable: a male weighs on average about 60 kg and does not exceed 90 kg. Females, on average, weigh 38 kg. The size and color of the African leopard also varies from region to region within the same continent, as the subspecies adapts to particular habitats.
  • They have three colors for the background of the coat: the latter can be dark yellow, pale or even slightly reddish.
  • Leopards are distinguished by a body pattern of black rosettes: these are united on the head and limbs, but on the rest of the body they surround a spot of a more intense color than the yellow background .
  • They have different rosettes depending on the region where they live: for example, the rosettes of this subspecies are rounded in specimens that inhabit West Africa and more square in those that live further south. south.
  • They have a unique body pattern: it changes from one individual to another.
  • They may suffer from melanism, which is a recessive mutation that results in dark coloration throughout the body. What is melanism in animals? Discover the answer in the following article from PlanèteAnimale.
  • They have short legs: compared to their body size, they are short.
  • They have a broad head and a large skull: this allows them to have a well-developed and powerful jaw, which gives them an impressive bite.
  • They have long whiskers around their muzzles: these same hairs also form the eyebrows, which provide protection.

African leopard habitat

The African leopard was once widespread in various parts of the continent, but over time, and due to human activity, this distribution has been greatly affected.In this sense, in North Africa, this feline has been reduced to 97% of its original presence. Some of the areas where it is or was once located are: Elba, southeastern Egypt, Sinai, Algeria and Morocco.

  • In West Africa, it has developed in: Niger, Senegal, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Ghana, among others. In Central Africa, we can cite the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gabon and the Central African Republic.
  • In East Africa, the leopard has developed: Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania. Finally, in the south, the areas correspond to Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and the Cape of South Africa.

In terms of ecosystem types, the leopard is a big cat that thrives in a variety of habitats, such as desert, semi-desert, savannah, forest, and African rainforest.

Habits of the African leopard

The African leopard is a mostly solitary animal, except for females with cubs and during the breeding season. The greatest activity of solitary individuals takes place at dawn and sunset. One of its particular behaviors is its marked territoriality, for which it leaves traces of faeces, urine and scratches with its claws to indicate its presence in a certain area.

He can be a good runner, leaping up to 6 meters horizontally and 3 meters vertically; he is also a good swimmer. When upset he may roar or growl, while when he wants to be friendly he purrs.

Males tend to establish larger home ranges than females. In fact, they can allow multiple females to overlap their territories. Males tend to avoid each other and, in addition to the aforementioned markings, emit a raspy coughing sound to communicate their presence in the area.When another male hears it, he makes a similar one and walks away.

African leopard diet

The African leopard, like all leopards, is an active predator and is therefore a carnivorous animal. To hunt, it stalks its prey ste althily and approaches it by walking as close to the ground as possible, using its fur for camouflage. Once it gets close, it takes a big leap and grabs its victim.

Its diet is very varied, and it can consume anything from small animals to much larger and heavier animals. The prey they consume depends mainly on the availability in the habitat, and among these we can mention:

  • Antelopes
  • Hares
  • Boar
  • Jackals
  • Gnus
  • Guinea fowl
  • Macaques
  • Gorillas
  • Porcupine

The following article on Predatory Animals: Meaning, Types, and Examples may interest you.

Reproduction of the African leopard

Reproductive behavior is generally similar for all leopard types and both males and females have multiple mates during their lifetime. Breeding can occur throughout the year, but can peak during the rainy months.

When the female goes into heat, which lasts about 7 days and happens every 46 days, she is the one who courts the male, approaching him to let him know that she is willing. In addition, generally, she has already left traces of urine containing pheromones, because these allow the male to know when she is in heat. For about a week, the couple will copulate several times a day, then the pregnancy begins, which lasts a little over 3 months.

Subsequently, an average of 2 babies are born, who are totally dependent on the mother's care. They start walking at 2 weeks old and explore outside the den between 6 and 8 weeks old. Weaning takes place at 3 months and the young become independent around the age of 20 months.

Conservation status of the African leopard

The species is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as Vulnerable, although some subspecies are listed in a different category. In the case of the African leopard, no further classification is reported, but there is a warning of population decline on the continent. It is also listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The causes of the affectation correspond to direct hunting, the reduction of prey essential to the leopard's diet and the alteration of the habitat, all things which are undoubtedly vital for the maintenance of this feline.

Photos of African Leopard

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