African leopard

The Life of Animals  | African leopard | The African Leopard (Panthera pardus pardus) is a leopard subspecies occurring across most of sub-Saharan Africa.  African leopards exhibit great variation in coat color, depending on location and habitat. Male leopards are larger, averaging 60 kg (130 lb) with 91 kg (200 lb) being the maximum weight attained by a male. Females weigh about 35 to 40 kg (77 to 88 lb) in average. Between 1996 and 2000, 11 adult leopards were radio-collared on Namibian farmlands. Males weighed 37.5 to 52.3 kg (83 to 115 lb) only, and females 24 to 33.5 kg (53 to 74 lb) Leopards inhabiting the mountains of the Cape Provinces appear physically different from leopards further north. African leopards used to occur in most of sub-Saharan Africa, occupying both rainforest and arid desert habitats.

African leopards inhabited a wide range of habitats within Africa, from mountainous forests to grasslands and savannahs, excluding only extremely sandy desert. Leopards are generally most active between sunset and sunrise, and kill more prey at this time In Kruger National Park, male leopards and female leopards with cubs were relatively more active at night than solitary females. The highest rates of daytime activity were recorded for leopards using thorn thickets during the wet season, when impala also used them Small prey are taken where large ungulates are less common. The known prey of leopards ranges from dung beetles to adult elands, which can reach 900 kg (2,000 lb) In sub-Saharan Africa, at least 92 prey species have been ocumented in their diet including rodents, birds, small and large antelopes, hyraxes and hares, and arthropods. Average intervals between ungulate kills range from seven to 12–13 days

In the Serengeti National Park, leopards were radio-collared for the first time in the early 1970s. Occasionally, they successfully hunted warthog, dik-dik, reedbuck, duiker, steinbok, wildebeest and topi calves, jackal, hare, guinea fowl and starling. They were less successful in hunting zebras, kongonis, giraffes, mongooses, genets, hyrax and small birds. Leopards often cache large kills in trees, a behavior for which great strength is required. Throughout Africa, the major threats to leopards are habitat conversion and intense persecution, especially in retribution for real and perceived livestock loss

The impact of trophy hunting on populations is unclear, but may have impacts at the demographic and population level, especially when females are shot.  Although male leopards provide no parental care to cubs, the presence of the sire allows mothers to raise cubs with a reduced risk of infanticide by foreign males. There are few reliable observations of infanticide in leopards but new males entering the population are likely to kill existing cubs

Analysis of leopard scats and camera trapping surveys in contiguous forest landscapes in the Congo Basin revealed a high dietary niche overlap and an exploitative competition between leopards and bushmeat hunters. With increasing proximity to settlements and concomitant human hunting pressure, leopards exploit smaller prey and occur at considerably reduced population densities. In the presence of intensive bushmeat hunting surrounding human settlements, leopards appear entirely absent

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