SPECIES OF THE WEEK
Scientific name: Panthera pardus (Linnaeus, 1758)
IUCN Status: They are listed critically endangered by IUCN (Eniang et al., 2016)
Population: decreasing population
Distribution: leopards have a widespread distribution across Africa (Sub-Saharan) forest and savannah (Hunter et al., 2013) and Asia.
Leopard is the most distributed wildcat species in the world and regarded as a solitary animal (Henschel and Ray 2003),
They are several subspecies of leopard, such as:
- Panthera pardus delacouri: distributed in Cambodia, China, Malaysia, Myanmar; Thailand, and extinct in Singapore, and it is Critically endangered (2019 IUCN Assessment) with a population of 77-776 (García et al., 2019)
- Panthera pardus kotiya: resident in Sri Lanka, Vulnerable (2019 IUCN assessment) with a population of 776-777. (Kittle and Watson, 2020).
- Panthera pardus melas: resident in Indonesia and is critically endangered with less than 250 mature individuals (Ario et al., 2008; Sunarto and Sanderson, 2016).
- Panthera pardus nimr: known as the Arabian Leopard, and it is critically endangered. According to IUCN, the population has not been assessed (Ario et al. 2008; Mallon et al., 2021)
- Panthera pardus orientalis: they are distributed in the extreme eastern part of Russia, critically endangered (Ario et al. 2008; Jackson and Nowell, 2021).
- Panthera pardus saxicolor: resident in Turkey and is reported to be endangered (Khorozyan 2008)
- Panthera pardus pardus: distributed in sub-Saharan Africa, critically endangered (2008, assess by IUCN) (Jdeidi et al., 2010)
P. pardus is nocturnal with peak activity during the hours of dawn and dusk (Bailey 1993) or diurnal with peak activity during the late morning and late afternoon-early evening (Norton and Henley 1987). Forest leopards are reported to differ from the savannah leopard as they are active during the day, following their prey activity pattern, exhibit seasonal differences in activity patterns (Jdeidi et al., 2010), and develop highly individualized prey preferences (Jenny and Zuberbühler 2005).
The leopard was formerly distributed across Nigeria (Myers, 1976) until it was heavily hunted for its skin (Blench 2007). According to an extensive survey by (Eniang et al., 2016), there are 6(six) confirms records of leopard found within the delta region in the last 15 years: four (4) of the six (6) were established during the study. Unfortunately, the studies rely on questionnaires/discussions with farmers and fresh leopard skin spotted during the survey.
Leopard Mating occurs around mid-January to mid-February in Iran (Farhadinia et al., 2009), between January to February in Russia, and November to December in Nepal (Hayssen et al., 1993). Births occur between February to March in India and Nepal, April to May in Russia, in the spring and early summer in Pakistan, during the rainy season in Angola, in Zaire; It occurs at the start of the rainy and beginning of the dry seasons and year-round in South Africa (Hayssen et al., 1993). Gestation occurs between 88-112 days, while Lactation occurs between 114-130 days (Hayssen et al., 1993).
African leopard can dwell in woodland, grassland savannah, forest, mountain habitats, coastal scrub, swampy areas, shrubland, semi-desert, and desert (Jdeidi et al., 2010)
Leopard was spotted in Yankari game reserve in Nigeria on 9 April 2017, and last sighted in 1986 (https://trackingextinction.com/2017/10/02/new-hopes-for-leopards-in-nigeria/). They are very adaptative animal and could live 10days without taking water, and a clever hunter (https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/leopard). The Amur leopard is reported to have a very low population; less than 100 (https://www.inverse.com/science/16-animals-becoming-extinct-2020s-heres-how-to-help).
Treat to this species includes:
Habitat loss (Eniang et al., 2016), Hunted for their skin and meat
WHAT IF THE ANIMAL GO INTO EXTINCTION?
Leopard is among the top predators in their environment, and they help balance the population of their pray, maintaining a balanced ecosystem.
The extinction of this unique cat will deprive the next generation of the joy to behold this beautiful species, and their environmental role will be felt.
Edem, A.E., Godfrey, C.A., Amadi, N., Dendi, D., Amori, G. and Luiselli, N. (2016): Recent distribution data and conservation status of the leopard (Panthera pardus) in the Niger Delta (Nigeria), Tropical Zoology, DOI:10.1080/03946975.2016.1214461
Arlo, A., Sunarto, S. and Sanderson, J. (2008). Panthera pardus ssp. me/as. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources 2010. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red list of threatened species. Version 2010.3. www.iucnredlist.org, accessed 25 September 2010
Khorozyan, I. (2008). Panthera pardus ssp. saxicolor. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources 2010. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red list of threatened species. Version 2010.3. www. iucnredlist.org, accessed 25 September 2010.
Bailey, T. N. (1993). The African leopard: ecology and behavior of a solitary felid. Columbia University Press, New York
Andrew, B.S. and Virginia, H. (2010). Panthera pardus (Carnivora: Felidae), American Society of Mammalogists, DOl: 10.1644/900.1.
Farhadinia, M.S., Mahdavi, A. and Hosseini, F.Z. (2009). Reproductive ecology of Persian leopard, Panthera pardus saxicolor, in Sarigol National Park, northeastern Iran. Zoology in the Middle East 48: 13-16.
Hayssen, V., Tienhoven, A.V. and Tienhoven, A.V. (1993). Asdell’s patterns of mammalian reproduction. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York
Myers, N. (1976). The Leopard Panthera pardus in Africa, Morges, Switzerland.
Jenny, D. and Zuberbühler, K. (2005). Hunting behaviour in West African forest leopards. African Journal of Ecology. 43:197–200.
Hunter, L., Henschel, P. and Ray, C. (2013). Leopard (Panthera pardus). In: Kingdon J, Hoffmann M, editors. Mammals of Africa. (V): 159–168.
Henschel, P. and Ray, J. (2003). Leopards in African rainforests: survey and monitoring techniques. New York (NY): WCS Global Carnivore Program.
García, S., Kamler, J.F., Clements, G.R., Lynam, A.J. & Naing, H. (2019). Panthera pardus ssp. delacouri (errata version published in 2020). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T124159083A163986056. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.20193.RLTS.T124159083A163986056.en.
Kittle, A. & Watson, A.C. 2020. Panthera pardus ssp. kotiya. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T15959A50660847. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-2.RLTS.T15959A50660847.en. Downloaded on 27 March 2021.
Stein, A.B., & Hayssen, V. 2013. Panthera pardus (Carnivora: Felidae). Mammalian Species, 900(1), pp.30-48. doi:10.1644/900.1.
Bailey, T.N. (1993). The African leopard: a study of the ecology and behavior of a solitary felid. New York (NY): Columbia University Press. 429 p.
Jenny D, Zuberbühler K. 2005. Hunting behavior in West African forest leopards. African Journal of Ecology. 43:197–200. Norton, P.M. and Henley, S.R. (1987). Home range and movements of male leopards in the Cedarberg Wilderness Area, Cape Province. South African Journal of Wildlife Research. (17):41-48.