For the final day of Big 5 Week, we are exploring all about the Leopard (Panthera pardus). The Leopard is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List with a decreasing population trend. There are nine recognised subspecies of Leopard worldwide:
- Panthera pardus pardus – African Leopard
- Panthera pardus nimr – Arabian Leopard
- Panthera pardus saxicolor – Persian Leopard
- Panthera pardus melas – Javan Leopard
- Panthera pardus kotiya – Sri Lankan Leopard
- Panthera pardus fusca – Indian Leopard
- Panthera pardus delacouri – Indochinese Leopard
- Panthera pardus japonensis – North-Chinese Leopard
- Panthera pardus orientalis – Amur Leopard
HABITAT AND DIET
Leopards can be found in a wide variety of habitats such as desert and semi-desert regions, rugged montane and savannah grasslands. Leopards prefer medium sized ungulates but will feed on reptiles, birds, insects, small mammals and also large ungulates. Their diet is based largely on the availability of prey.
The main threats to leopards come from habitat fragmentation, reduced prey bases and conflicts with livestock. They are also popular targets for trophy hunters and are subject to illegal trade of skin and bones which are used in traditional ceremonies and for medicines in eastern cultures.
Leopards are listed on CITES Appendix I and the trade of leopard skins and products has been restricted to 2560 individuals in 11 countries in Africa. Trophy hunting has been banned in several countries; most recently in 2016, South Africa suspended the trophy hunting of leopards. To address the use of leopard skins in traditional ceremonies, conservationists have partnered with textile companies in South Africa to create and provide faux-fur alternatives.
If you want to donate to leopard conservation, you can do this with the Born Free Foundation where you can adopt a leopard family for £2.50 a month. In the adoption pack you receive a cuddly toy, a leopard photo, a personalised certificate, the full story of the leopard family, a Born Free window sticker, a Born Free folder and a copy of adopt! magazine. The adoption lasts for a year.
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