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|African leopard in Serengeti, Tanzania.|
|Subspecies:||P. p. pardus|
Panthera pardus pardus
The African leopard (Panthera pardus pardus) is the leopard nominate subspecies native to Africa. It is widely distributed in most of sub-Saharan Africa, but the historical range has been fragmented in the course of habitat conversion.
Traditionally the following subspecies were recognized in Africa:
Results of genetic analysis indicate that all African leopard populations are closely related and represent only one subspecies. However, sample sizes were limited.
African leopards exhibit great variation in coat color, depending on location and habitat. Coat colour varies from pale yellow to deep gold or tawny, and sometimes black, and is patterned with black rosettes while the head, lower limbs and belly are spotted with solid black. Male leopards are larger, averaging 60 kg (130 lb) with 91 kg (201 lb) being the maximum weight attained by a male. Females weigh about 35 to 40 kg (77 to 88 lb) on average.
Between 1996 and 2000, 11 adult leopards were radio-collared on Namibian farmlands. Males weighed 37.5 to 52.3 kg (83 to 115 lb) only, and females 24 to 33.5 kg (53 to 74 lb).
Leopards inhabiting the mountains of the Cape Provinces appear physically different from leopards further north. Their average weight may be only half that of the more northerly leopard.
African leopards used to occur in most of sub-Saharan Africa, occupying both rainforest and arid desert habitats. They were found in all habitats with annual rainfall above 50 mm (2.0 in), and can penetrate areas with less than this amount of rainfall along river courses. They range exceptionally up to 5,700 m (18,700 ft), have been sighted on high slopes of the Ruwenzori and Virunga volcanoes, and observed when drinking thermal water 37 °C (99 °F) in the Virunga National Park.
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