RANGE:sub-Saharan Africa, southern Asia; scattered populations in north Africa and Arabia
HABITAT:savanna, woodlands, tropical forest
DIET: CARNIVOREother mammals, birds, arthropods
LIFESPAN:Captive: 21-23 yrs
Wild: 7-9 yrs
OFFSPRING:1-3 young per litter
LENGTH:40-75 in (100-190 cm)
WEIGHT:66-155 lb (30-70 kg)
“Where I live”
Leopards in general — and African leopards included — live in more diverse habitats than any other mammal except man and some rodents. African leopards are spread across the entire African continent, living everywhere except the most extreme areas of the Sahara and Namib deserts. They can adapt to grasslands, bush, rugged mountains and arid desert, but truly thrive in rainforest habitat.
Leopards survive in a wide variety of habitats because they’ll eat just about anything and they exploit their environment exceptionally well. Leopards eat birds, snakes, rodents and other small mammals, all kinds of antelope, wild sheep and goats, and livestock. Alone among big cats, leopards will exist in proximity to humans. Very rarely will a leopard prey upon humans, however. Wherever they go, leopards can carve out a niche for themselves and find food.
“How I live there”
By day, a leopard rests. It seeks shade, in the branches of a tree if possible, and sleeps or silently watches what’s going on below. Its spotted coat blends seamlessly into the dappled shade of a tree, giving it the uncanny ability to hide in plain sight.
Around twilight, a leopard awakens and begins to hunt or patrol its territory, scent-marking as it goes. Adult males call to advertise their territories – a hard, grunting, barking call that is easily recognized. They want to be sure that other leopards do not trespass. Adult females call when in estrous and ready to mate.
Leopards hunt by ambush. They watch silently for prey, get within feet of their chosen kill, and then charge. Only one in ten leopard attacks ends in success, though. The leopard is built for strength, not speed, so it relies on the elements of surprise and confusion to bring down prey. If a leopard makes a kill, it will gut the animal on the spot but will drag the carcass into the treetops to conceal and guard it from other predators.