Leopard Attacks Tourist Car in Kruger National Park, South Africa

Posted on 13. Jul, 2015 by in Leopard Attacks

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The leopard (Panthera pardus) is a member of the Felidae family with a wide range in some parts of Africa and tropical Asia, from Siberia, South and West Asia to across most of sub-Saharan Africa. It is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List because it is declining in large parts of its range due to habitat loss and fragmentation, and hunting for trade and pest control. It is regionally extinct in Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuwait, Syrian Arab Republic, Libya and Tunisia.
The leopard /ˈlɛpərd/ is the smallest of the four “big cats” in the genus Panthera. Compared to other members of the Felidae, the leopard has relatively short legs and a long body with a large skull. It is similar in appearance to the jaguar, but is smaller and more slightly built. 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 jaguars do. Both leopards and jaguars that are melanistic are known as black panthers.
The species’ success in the wild is in part due to its opportunistic hunting behavior, its adaptability to habitats, its ability to run at speeds approaching 58 kilometres per hour (36 mph), its unequaled ability to climb trees even when carrying a heavy carcass, and its notorious ability for stealth. The leopard consumes virtually any animal that it can hunt down and catch. Its habitat ranges from rainforest to desert terrains.

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Leopards show a great diversity in coat color and rosettes patterns. In general, the coat color varies from pale yellow to deep gold or tawny, and is patterned with black rosettes. The head, lower limbs and belly are spotted with solid black. Coat color and patterning are broadly associated with habitat type. Their rosettes are circular in East Africa but tend to be squarer in southern Africa and larger in Asian populations. Their yellow coat tends to be more pale and cream colored in desert populations, more gray in colder climates, and of a darker golden hue in rainforest habitats. Overall, the fur under the belly tends to be lighter coloured and of a softer, downy type. Solid black spots in place of open rosettes are generally seen along the face, limbs and underbelly.
Leopards are agile and stealthy predators. Although they are smaller than other members of the Panthera genus, they are able to take large prey due to their massive skulls that facilitate powerful jaw muscles. Head and body length is usually between 90 and 165 cm (35 and 65 in). The tail reaches 60 to 110 cm (24 to 43 in) long, around the same length as the tiger’s tail and relatively the longest tail in the Panthera genus (though snow leopards and the much smaller marbled cats are relatively longer tailed). Shoulder height is from 45 to 80 cm (18 to 31 in). The muscles attached to the scapula are exceptionally strong, which enhance their ability to climb trees. They are very diverse in size. Males are about 30% larger than females, weighing 30 to 91 kg (66 to 200 lb) compared to 23 to 60 kg (51 to 130 lb) for females. Large males of up to 91 kg (200 lb) have been documented in Kruger National Park in South Africa; however, males in South Africa’s coastal mountains average 31 kg (68 lb) and the females from the desert-edge in Somalia average 23 to 27 kg (51 to 60 lb). This wide variation in size is thought to result from the quality and availability of prey found in each habitat. The most diminutive leopard subspecies overall is the Arabian leopard (P. p. nimr), from deserts of the Middle East, with adult females of this race weighing as little as 17 kg (37 lb).
Other large subspecies, in which males weigh up to 91 kg (200 lb), are the Sri Lankan leopard (P. p. kotiya) and the Anatolian leopard (P. p. tulliana). Such larger leopards tend to be found in areas which lack tigers and lions, thus putting the leopard at the top of the food chain with no competitive restriction from large prey items. The largest verified leopards weighed 96.5 kg (213 lb) and can reach 190 cm (75 in) in head-and-body length. Larger sizes have been reported but are generally considered unreliable. The leopard’s body is comparatively long, and its legs are short.

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