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What are African Leopards? | Leopards in Uganda | Uganda Wildlife Safari Tours

What are African Leopards?

These large carnivores powerfully built with long bodies. Relatively short legs and a broad head. There nine sub-species and distinguished by the unique characteristics of their coats. Which range from tawny or light yellow in warm-dry habitats. To reddish-orange in dense forests. Their coat covered in dark-irregular spots called rosettes. These spots are circular in East African leopards. But square in Southern African leopards. Leopards are the most common cats in Africa. However, they are also the most reclusive and as such, are difficult to spot. Often blending in with their surroundings.  They are nocturnal and most active at dusk. And tend to hunt in the evenings and early mornings thus a reason as to why they are not seen.

Common Name: Leopards

Scientific Name: Panthera Pardus Pardus

Class: Mammalia

Family: Felidae

Speed: 93km/hr (Maximum)

Diet: Carnivore

Size: Head and Body: 4.25 to 6.25 Feet;

Tail: 3.5 to 4.5 Feet

Weight: 66 to 176 Pounds

 

Diet

Leopards are carnivores and hunt a wide variety of mammals which can range from small mammals to large ungulates, reptiles to birds and sometimes to insects.  They store their kill under thick vegetation or up in the tree branches to keep it safe from Lions and Hyenas.

 

Habitat

They can be found in most of sub-Saharan Africa. Their habitat is wide and they can be seen in semi-arid land, scrubland, Bush, savannahs, mountain lowland rainforests, riverine forest and rocky outcrops and they like to sun themselves on termite mounds or rocky outcrops.

 

Size and Lifespan

Male leopards are larger than females weighing up to 130-200 lbs while females weigh between 75 and 88 lbs. They grow up to 2.3 meters long and stand approximately 28 inches at the shoulder for adults and they generally live for 15-20 years in the wild.

 
Reproduction

Leopards breed all year round and can have between 2 to 6 cubs and the females raise the cubs by themselves. The gestation period is anything from 90-112 days and they become independent adults at between 18 to 22 months. Leopard cubs are kept hidden for the first couple of months, and at about 4 months old, the mother starts to train the cubs to hunt small animals.

 

Predators and Threats

Humans have been and have remained the main threat to the survival of leopards, whose numbers whilst currently numerous, are decreasing. Human induced habitat loss, fragmentation or degradation, hunting or gathering, pest control is having a continued impact in the survivals of leopards.

 

Safari Tip: When on safari and spotting leopards, look for what appears to be a short branch (moving slightly) hanging down from a large limb of tree, this is how the leopard positions its tail when resting.