Wednesday 16 November 2011

Leopard Description

Leopards can be confused for jaguars. However, they live in entirely different places. The jaguar is the largest cat in Central and South America and the leopard is the largest spotted cat cat in Africa and Asia.

They are both powerful looking, large wildcats that have relatively short legs. However on a strict comparison of size and weight, the jaguar wins. Leopards are excellent climbers and jumpers. You often see them in trees.

They leopard has a spotted - rosetted - coat. The maximum overall length including tail is around 2.4 meters. They vary considerably in size throughout their wide distribution as does the nature of their fur. Males can be 50% heavier than females.  Weights range between 21 and 65 kilograms. They are the 5th largest wildcat species.

Leopard cub - Photo copyright Tony Yeomans

The photograph above was taken by Tony Yeomans in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka (map below). He says the leopard was 9 months old. See Tony's photostream on Flickr.

The rosettes merge into spots on the lower limbs and undersides of the leopard, where the coat is white. Leopard markings are used to identify an individual cat. The same applies to tigers. The leopard coat is very effective camouflage. The coat background color varies between golden to a buff gray. Leopards inhabiting forests are darker than those in open landscape. Black (melanistic) leopards are seen in southern India, Java, Malaysia and the Aberdere Mountains of Kenya (where also you will see black servals). A black leopard is called a black panther. Rarely there are albino leopards.

Yala NP location:

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