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Temporal range: Late Pliocene or Early to recent
(Panthera pardus pardus)
|Current range of the leopard, former (red), uncertain (yellow), highly fragmented (light green), and present (dark green)|
Felis pardus Linnaeus, 1758
Felis pardus Linnaeus, 1758
The leopard (Panthera pardus) // is one of the five "big cats" in the genus Panthera. It is a member of the family Felidae with a wide range in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. Fossil records found in Italy suggest that in the it ranged as far as Europe and Japan.
Compared to other members of Felidae, the leopard has relatively short legs and a long body with a large skull. It is similar in appearance to the jaguar, but has a smaller, lighter physique. Its fur is marked with rosettes similar to those of the jaguar, but the leopard's rosettes are smaller and more densely packed, and do not usually have central spots as the jaguar's do. Both leopards and jaguars that are melanistic are known as black panthers.
The leopard is distinguished by its well-camouflaged fur, opportunistic hunting behaviour, broad diet, and strength (which it uses to move heavy carcasses into trees), as well as its ability to adapt to various habitats ranging from rainforest to steppe, including arid and montane areas, and its ability to run at speeds of up to 58 kilometres per hour (36 mph).
It is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because leopard populations are declining in large parts of their range. They are threatened by habitat loss and pest control. Their habitats are fragmented and they are illegally hunted so that their pelts may be sold in wildlife trade for medicinal practices and decoration. They have been extirpated in Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuwait, Syria, Libya, Tunisia and most likely Morocco.
|African leopard (P. p. pardus)||Lives in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is the most widespread subspecies of leopards.
|Indian leopard (P. p. fusca)||Native to the Indian Subcontinent. It is widespread in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan.|
|Arabian leopard (P. p. nimr)||Native to the Arabian Peninsula. It lives in arid areas of Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. It is the smallest leopard subspecies.|
|Persian leopard (P. p. ciscaucasica), also known as Central Asian leopard or Caucasian leopard||Inhabits the Caucasus, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and northern Iran. It is the largest leopard subspecies.|
|North-Chinese leopard (P. p. japonensis), also known as the Chinese leopard||Only native to central to northern China. It is among the medium-sized leopard subspecies.|
|Amur leopard (P. p. orientalis), also known as Far Eastern leopard or Siberian leopard||Found today only in the cold regions of Russian Far East and Northeast China. It is a Critically Endangered leopard subspecies, and one of the most endangered animals in the world. It is currently extinct in the Korean Peninsula.|
|Indochinese leopard (P. p. delacouri)||inhabits mainland Southeast Asia and South China.|
|Javan leopard (P. p. melas)||The only subspecies native to Indonesia. Lives on Java and is a critically endangered subspecies.|
|Sri Lankan leopard (P. p. kotiya)||Native to Sri Lanka.|
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