LEOPARD FACT FILE

by Wildlife South Africa


LEOPARD
Latin Name: Panthera pardus
Afrikaans: Luiperd
 
Distribution in South Africa:
 
Found throughout South Africa with concentrations in most National Parks, provincial reserves, protected and inaccessible areas. Also found in some private nature and game reserves. Common outside conservation areas and generally the only large predator that is often found close to human habitation. Leopards occur from high mountains to coastal areas - semi desert to water-rich riverine areas.
 
Habitat:
 
Mountainous areas, thick bush, along streams and rivers in riverine bush. Leopards are very adaptable and they even occur in dry and semi-desert areas like the Kalahari.
 
 
Habits:
 
Leopards are shy, secretive and cunning animals. They are solitary except when mating or females with cubs. They are mainly nocturnal and probably the most adaptable predator. Their food varies from small rodents to large antelope like Kudu and Waterbuck. In areas with predators they will hoist their prey into a tree to feed on it, while hiding it from other predators. Leopards are perfectly camouflaged and hunt by stalking, ambushing and then pouncing on their prey. In areas where there are many other large predators, Leopards usually take their prey up into trees to prevent it from being stolen by the other predators. They are very agile in trees and can also swim well. Leopards are known to be very powerful and when cornered or harassed can be extremely dangerous to humans.
 
Difference between Male and female:
 
Males are much larger and stockier. 
 
Mass:
 
Male – In certain areas male leopards can weigh up to 100 kilograms.
Female – In certain areas female leopards can weigh up to 65 kilograms
 
Lifespan:
 
About 18 years
 
Breeding:
 
Gestation period about 3 months. Usually 2 to 3 are cubs born throughout the year.
 
Food and Water:
 
Leopards are very opportunistic hunters and will feed on a wide variety of prey. Apart from insects, small rodents and large antelope, they will also hunt birds. Baboons, Warthog and Impala are their favourites. Depending on the area and availability of food, Leopards will also prey on dogs and domestic livestock. They are not water dependent in the sense that they do not have to drink water daily, but will drink daily when water is available.
 
Enemies:
 
Humans, Lion, Spotted Hyena, Wild dog, Nile Crocodile
 
References & Sources:
 
The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion,
Revised by D Skinner & Christian T Chimumba
Cambridge University Press 2005
 
Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa
Chris & Tilde Stuart
Struik Publishers
Third edition 2003
 
The Mammal Guide of Southern Africa
Burger Cillié
Briza Publications
2004
 
Maberly's Mammals of Southern Africa - A popular Field Guide
A revision by Richard Goss of Charles Astley Maberly's - The Game Animals of Southern Africa
Delta Books (Pty) Ltd
1986
 
Research:
Johan van der Walt