The Leopards are the least visible and highly misunderstood of all of the world’s big cats. Despite being closely related to jaguars, tigers, and lions, who live in packs or groups, leopards are animals who like to live alone, and it’s difficult to track them due to their stealth and their exotic and occasionally risky habitats.
Leopards are big cats well recognized for their golden, spotted bodies. They’re often believed to be an African animal, but leopards are found all over the world. Leopard is the most widespread member of the cat family and one of the five “big cats” (together with the jaguar, tiger, lion and snow leopard). There are nine subspecies of leopard that are native to Africa and Asia.
Leopard lives in various climates and habitats, from coastal scrublands, rainforests, swamps and woodlands to the mountains, steppes, and deserts. Despite its extensive range, the population of leopards in the wild is declining dramatically due to illegal hunting and loss of habitat. Many leopard subspecies are currently classified as near threatened, whereas the Amur leopard is fully endangered with only thirty animals remaining in the wild.
Between their stealth, strength, and power, leopards are the great predators, and their capacity to adapt to what are sometimes very harsh environmental conditions enables them to survive alone in some of the world’s harshest climates like south Saharan desert and even the Himalayas.
Leopards have amazing skills and features which allow them to endure their solitary lifestyle and survive the dangers posed to them by different predators. Below are 9 of the most interesting facts about the leopards:
1. Leopards are incredibly powerful. They’re pounding for pound the strongest of the big cats. They can climb trees, even while carrying large prey, and usually, select to rest on the tree branches at the day. One reason why leopards may decide to take their prey up in the trees is to ensure hyenas or lions cannot steal them.
2. Leopards are extremely fast felines and can run at up to 58 kilometers per hour! They are super springy, as well, and can leap six meters forward through the air – that is the length of 3 adults lying head to toe!
3. Leopards are solitary animals. Each leopard have their own territory, and leave poop, urine scent marks and scratches on trees to warn fellow leopards to stay away! Females and males will cross territories, but only to mate.
4. The tail of this big cat is almost as long as its body. A strong tail enhances the body balance. On top of this, the leopard has an incredibly gripping set of claws which can assist it to climb even a straight rough cliff the way an individual does rock climbing. But unlike humans, it’s not subjected to some ropes for safety.
5. Like lions, leopards are also nocturnal, hunting their prey at night. Leopards often hunt from dusk to dawn except for the ones in West Africa that happen to be diurnal animals and hunt prey during twilight.
6. The cubs are born blind and depend entirely on their mother for almost one week, and their eyes are a bright blue for months. They do not have spots at birth and are plain gray for some days.
7. When leopards sense that their time is coming to an end, they return to the place where they were born. It is enlightening how they have this traditional behavior, intelligence and empathy that just connects us in a similar manner.
8. Leopard has excellent vision and sense of hearing that facilitate detection of prey at night.
9. Leopard does not drink a lot of water. It obtains most of the moisture from the prey.