Leopards: A Dying Species

By J.N.

Description

Leopards are mammals, and their scientific classification is Panthera pardus. A fully grown leopard can be up to 10 feet long, from head to tail. They can weigh up to 176 pounds, and can live for 15 years in the wild. Leopards weigh up to just one pound at birth, and are fully mature at three years of age. Leopards can hear five times more sound than humans, and use their amazing hearing to help them catch prey. Most leopards can communicate with the spots on their tails and their ears. Their spots also help them camouflage from prey in the tall grass.

Food Chain and Habitat

Leopards are able to live in forests, mountains, grasslands, and deserts. They can be found in sub-Saharan Africa, northeast Africa, Central Asia, India, and parts of China.(National Geographic) Leopards hunt for deer, antelope, pigs, and some livestock. They can be killed by lions of tigers, but the greatest threat to leopards is humans themselves.(Wiki Answers) To make sure it's prey isn't stolen by hyenas, the leopard drags it's kills up trees and hides them, to make sure they are there when they get back. Male leopards have a much larger range from their dens than females, and they both can also survive in cold or rainforest climates. (Nat. Geo.)

Adaptation

Leopards are very versatile animals, and have adapted to live In nearly every environment on the planet. Leopards live in more areas than any of the other big cats, and can even change their diets to suit their environment. For example, desert leopards' coats are camouflaged to suit the desert, and are a sandy color. Black leopards, sometimes called panthers, live in deep rainforests, where they can easily hide in the shadows. Leopards have specially adapted ankle bones, which allows them to jump and climb up trees with great ease. They even have bigger lungs than most other cats, which allows them to live at higher altitudes.(San Diego Zoo)

Reasons for Endangerment & Critical Information

Even with all of the efforts being done to help save the leopards, they are still endangered for several reasons. For example, leopard skin coats are still being sold secretly, and poachers still sometimes kill leopards for their whiskers, which are believed to be a good medicine. Only around 10,000 leopards can be found in the wild, with most of them located in and around Africa. Some things you can do to help protect the leopard are to not buy leopard skin coats, or to join conservation efforts to help protect leopards. Leopards are protected under the Endangered Species Act, and there is an international ban on selling any leopard-related products.
Natural World: Leopards (BBC)