Leopards are known to be secretive and shrewd. Among the large cats they are the strongest climbers. There are 27 different species of leopard throughout the world and they live in various climates and habitats. The leopard is one of the most adaptable felines, inhabiting areas from the sub-Saharan Africa to Asia.
The favored habitat of leopards is thick bush areas within forests and rocky surroundings, but this mammal is diverse and adapts well to both warm and cold climates around the globe. Normally they do not live in deserts unless there is significant rainfall. Leopards have been observed up to 18,000 feet high in mountainous regions and in the Himalayan mountains up to 17,000 feet.
Home Range within Habitat
Leopards are not pack animals but solitary creatures. Each leopard has its own home range, although these ranges tend to overlap. Males have larger home ranges than females. Intruding upon another leopard's turf often leads to fights, unless the intrusion is for mating purposes. Leopards rarely stay in the same area for a long time, but rather move continuously within their home range.
Prey in Habitat
Leopard prey ranges from reptiles, carrion and birds to mammals such as rodents, hares, antelopes, warthogs, monkeys, baboons and hyraxes. Also at home in water, leopards eat fish and crabs. Leopards are excellent, powerful climbers and often drag their prey up into the branches of a tree to protect it from scavengers such as hyenas.
Predators in Habitat
Man is the main predator of leopards. Though leopards have a reputation of being killers, there is no supporting research. Some farmers hunt leopards to protect their livestock, and out of fear. They're also hunted for their beautiful fur, long sought for its warmth and unique colors and patterns.
Loss of Habitat
The leopard's habitat is increasingly threatened by human settlement. If they were not such adaptable animals they would not be able to survive. Another very real threat to the leopard population is the decrease in prey populations within their habitats. All leopard species across the globe are either threatened or endangered. According to Earth's Endangered Species, the estimated leopard population worldwide is more than 500,000.
- Photo Credit leopard image by Vintsik from Fotolia.com leopard image by nutech21 from Fotolia.com sri lanka leopard image by Reisbegeleider.com from Fotolia.com
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