Leopard (Panthera pardus)

The leopard’s coat is generally yellowish to brown and covered with rosettes, but their bellies are white with solid black spots. Leopards have large heads, thick necks and long whiskers. Their claws are sharp and fully retractable. Leopards are short and stocky in appearance, but they are powerful and agile. Adult male leopards weigh between 38 and 70 kg and adult females 15 and 40 kg.

Spoor

The tracks of male leopards, presented here, are larger than those of females. The front foot is much wider, yet slightly shorter than the back foot. Average measurements (mm) for males are presented (width x height).

Front foot - 72 x 78mm

Back foot - 67 x 83mm

Biology
The leopard is solitary, secretive and nocturnal. Leopards live in defined home ranges but there is extensive overlap between the home ranges of individuals. Gestation period is approximately 105 days and litters range between 1 and 3 cubs. Survival of cubs is high, but in a stable population the survival of sub adults is low. Sub-adults attain complete independence at approximately 20 – 24 months. Females become reproductively active and breed at the age of 2 years.

Distribution
Leopards occur throughout Namibia. They are able to adapt and succeed in wide variety of environments. Although generally, but incorrectly, associated with koppies, rocky hills, and mountain ranges, leopards are equally abundant and successful in open savannahs, forests, and desert habitats.

Predation
The leopard is an opportunistic feeder but the tend to prey on animals less than 70 kg in mass. In some areas leopards kill mainly dassies and klipspringers, and in other areas, impalas or springboks may be the dominant prey. In the Kaudom Game Reserve duikers form the most important part of their diet (33% of all kills and 60% of biomass), followed by steenboks and eland calves. Leopards may prey on 20 to 30 different species. These include birds, reptiles (snakes), and other carnivores (e.g. black-backed jackals, cheetah, aardwolfs and bat-eared foxes).

Conflict/Enemies
Leopards sometimes take to stock raiding on farmlands, and as a result, are frequently trapped or shot. Lions and spotted hyaenas occasionally kill leopard cubs or adults in poor condition, but man poses the biggest threat to the species.

Multimedia (Download QuickTime to view video clips)

leopard.mov 00'19 / 1.1Mb
Sound file

Adult male leopard growling, recorded in the Kaudom Game Park during 1994.

leop_growl.mp3 (00'09 / 65Kb)

 

(Leopard filmed on Sandveld during 2006 by Wayne Cilliers)