The Leopard

Leopards (Panthera Pardus) are carnivores found in Sub-Saharan Africa, small parts of Western and Central Asia, the Indian Sub-Continent as well as South-East and Eastern Asia. They are able to survive in a variety of climatic regions from the dry semi desert to tropical rain forests. Their closest relations are the lion, tiger and jaguar.


At home in the Savannah, grasslands and tropical areas alike, leopards are solitary animals that hunt with the precision and cunning of a skilled,  wild prowler.  A graceful and meticulous hunter, this member of the cat family is known for its tree-climbing abilities; which act both as a cunning vantage point in wait for unsuspecting prey, as well as shelter from equally meat-eating adversaries such as hyenas. The leopard is able to comfortably haul its prey up tree branches where it is capable of devouring its meal with equal ease.

Its spotted coat acts as the perfect camouflage; blending well with the flora and fauna found in most of its habitat. The dark spots on its hide are generally arranged in distinct rosettes; a marvel to behold.  Antelope, deer and even wild pigs make a decent meal for this powerful cat. Because of their ability to swim, leopards may also be found feasting on fish and crabs.


Leopards breed well during the rainy season or in times of food abundance, though this is not always the case. The females may give birth at any time of the year, with two cub usually being born at any one occasion. These cubs carry a greyish coat with barely visible spots. The mother nurtures her young for about two years, after which they are old enough to venture into a life of solitude in the wild.

However leopards face the danger of extinction which is a result of depleting habitats and continued hunting by humans. Their hide is prized for its fur which makes coats and ceremonial robes. And with climate change robbing them of their homes and prey, this beautiful and majestic feline faces a dark future. In the meantime they remain an elegant member of The Big Five.

by Shepherd Hungwe

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