Arabian Leopard - Characteristics, Behavior and Feeding

Arabian leopard: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. Leopards (Panthera pardus) are magnificent mammals...

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Leopards (Panthera pardus) are magnificent mammals native to Africa and Asia, of which eight subspecies have been identified. These animals are excellent predators, very agile and, although they are not the largest of the group, they never cease to amaze with their hunting abilities. Among the subspecies, we find the Arabian leopard (P. p. nimr), about which we present this PlanetAnimal file. We invite you to read on to know the main characteristics of the Arabian leopard, its habitat and its conservation status.


  • Asia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Oman
  • Yemen

Characteristics of the Arabian leopard

The different types of leopards have certain common traits, however, in some cases, such as for this subspecies, there are distinctive aspects that allow us to differentiate them from each other. Let's discover together the characteristics of the Arabian leopard:

  • In this species, there is significant sexual dimorphism and the males are larger and heavier than the females. Thus, the first have a length between 1.80 and 2 meters for an average weight of about 30 kg, while the second have a length between 1.60 and 1.90 meters and a mass of about 20 kg .
  • The Arabian leopard is the smallest leopard in the entire group, but it is the largest feline in the entire Arabian Peninsula.
  • The color of the coat is yellow and it can vary between different shades such as pale, deep, reddish or grayish.
  • It features the characteristic black rosette pattern of the species.
  • As is usually the case with this type of animal, its legs are short compared to its long body.
  • The head is broad, with a broad skull and powerful jaws.
  • His ears are rounded.
  • The mustaches are long white hairs.

Where does the Arabian leopard live?

The Arabian leopard lives mainly in the Dhofar region in southwestern Oman on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, as well as in the Hawf district in the northeastern part of Oman. Yemen, in this case to the south of the peninsula.There are also a few small populations in Saudi Arabia, Judea of Israel and the Negev, although recent records have not reconfirmed its presence in these regions.

This feline also inhabited the Musandam Peninsula in Oman and the United Arab Emirates, but it is suspected that it has disappeared from these regions.

As for the characteristics of the habitat of the Arabian leopard, this subspecies has developed mainly in mountainous areas, steppes, areas with abundant vegetation and, less frequently, towards the plains, the desert ecosystems, plains and coastal areas.

Arabian leopard behavior

There is little information on the behavior of the Arabian leopard, probably because it lives in remote areas that are difficult for humans to access. It is a mostly solitary animal, except during breeding periods and when mothers are caring for their young.Although it is mainly nocturnal, it can also move during the day.

It has generally had strong competition for prey with the caracal (Caracal caracal) and the Arabian wolf (Canis lupus arabs), however, given the high pressure this type of leopard has received, it has a great disadvantage that affects its survival. Its range varies depending on prey availability and habitat conditions.

What does the Arabian leopard eat?

The Arabian leopard, like all other leopards, is a predator, therefore a carnivore. Its main prey is medium to small in size and depends mainly on the presence of prey within the feline's range. In this sense, the diet of the Arabian leopard can consist of:

  • Gazelles
  • Mountain goats
  • Hares
  • Hydraxes
  • Porcupine
  • Desert Hedgehogs
  • Rodents
  • Birds
  • Insects
  • Camels
  • Livestock
  • Donkeys
  • Sheep

Don't miss this other article where we talk more in depth about what leopards eat.

Reproduction of the Arabian leopard

As mentioned, studies on the behavior of the species are limited, including its mode of reproduction. However, it must be similar to that of the species in general. Leopards tend to have multiple mates throughout their breeding season. In some areas, the mating period is known to occur around March.

The gestation period for females lasts about 13 weeks and they have litters of 2 to 4 young. These little ones, at birth, are totally dependent on maternal care, as they are blind and cannot fend for themselves.After about a month they begin to leave the cave or den where they were born, but they are not weaned until they are two months old and remain with their mother for about two years when they become fully independent.

State of conservation of the Arabian leopard

The leopard in general is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as vulnerable. It did, however, make distinctions for some subspecies, such as the Arabian leopard, which is unfortunately considered critically endangered.

The most recent report is for the year 2020 from the IUCN, and indicates that there must be between 45 and 200 individuals, which is worrying for a general population of a species. The threats behind this are linked to direct hunting, which in turn is linked to marketing as trophies, use for supposed medicinal benefits and retaliation, as leopards may attack livestock when they cannot find prey to feed on.The fragmentation of habitats and the drastic reduction in natural prey also played a role.

While not enough, conservation measures include listing the leopard on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as well as the regulation of hunting and the creation of protected areas where the animal lives, although these represent only a minimal percentage of the habitat in these countries.

Photos of Arabian Leopard

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