PERSIAN LEOPARDS

By: Erin Dilla

Species Information

  • It is found in scattered numbers in a number of countries extending from South Asia to Middle East including some Central Asian states.

  • They have short legs and a powerful stocky frame, uniquely patterned with black rosettes on the back, shoulders, and haunches and has black spots and blotches on the head, throat, chest and belly.
  • Leopards in general have a broad diet and are able to adapt to fluctuations in availability of prey.
  • As a top predator, Persian leopards are less concerned about concealing prey than their African and central Asian counterparts.

Persian Leopards

  • The highest number of Persian Leopards are in Iran with around six to eight hundred animals reportedly existing.
  • They tend to reside in the mountain and forest regions.
  • Some living in captivity and breeding programs.
  • Over the past 25 years in many areas of this vast range the leopard was exterminated and in the others its numbers were significantly reduced.
  • The decline of population size has been a result of poaching, prey reduction and habitat loss.
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FUN FACTS!

  • They're stealthy hunters and resourceful scavengers, and they can adapt to almost any environment.
  • Retractable claws help them grab and swat prey, which they kill with a bite to the throat.
  • Leopards can drag three times their own body weight up to tree branches over 20 feet high.
  • Leopards roar, but not as loud as lions. They also purr and growl.
  • A leopard’s tail is just about as long as its entire body. This helps it with balance and enables it to make sharp turns quickly.
  • Female leopards give birth to a little of two or three cubs at a time.
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Threats

  • The Persian leopard was once abundant across most mountain and forest habitats in Iran, but it is now one of the rarest species of carnivores in the country.
  • Recent surveys have revealed that around 65% of the wild population of the Persian leopard in western Asia exist in Iran.
  • Poaching and habitat loss is a main concern to leopards all around.
  • It is guess-estimated that there are about 550-850 leopards still surviving in the country.
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Future

Persian leopards disappeared from the Caucasus mountains around the resort of Sochi in southern Russia in the 1920s due to excessive hunting. As part of an effort to restore the population, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin received two wild male leopards as a gift from Turkmenistan last year and said he was hoping to receive more from Iran. Russia has recently hardened its position on sanctions over Iran's nuclear program but Peskov said sanctions will not be an obstacle to receiving wild cats from Iran.
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