The leopard is widespread across most of Africa and southern Asia, ranging from open grassland to tropical rainforest and mountain highlands.

Leopards have striking markings. The black panther is a melanistic variant; it has a black coat, but the underlying patterning can still be seen.

The leopard’s background colour is influenced by its habitat. Those occurring in semi-arid areas are paler yellow, while black panthers are most likely to be encountered in wooded terrain. They do not represent a different subspecies, merely an infrequent mutation. They are solitary creatures, although a male may help a female in rearing offspring. Leopards can be dangerous to people if cornered.

Solitary and nocturnal, the beautiful form of the leopard is rarely seen, even though it often lives in close proximity to humans.

Leopards are found in the hot African savannah and often compete with cheetahs and lions for their food. Leopards also like to carry their prey into a tree for safe keeping.

Distribution: Occurs widely across Africa south of the Sahara, with an isolated population in the northwest. Also ranges through the Middle East and southern Asia.

Habitat: Forest, mountains and grassland.

Weight: 37 – 90 kg (82 – 200 lb).

Length: 150 – 300 cm (60 – 118 in).

Maturity: 3 – 4 years.

Gestation Period: 90 – 105 days.

Breeding: 1 – 6, typically 2 or 3.

Diet: Hunts large mammals such as wildebeest and deer; also catches baboons and monkeys; when food is scarce it will seek smaller prey, even insects.

Lifespan: Probably 8 – 10 years in the wild; has lived for more than 23 years in captivity.

Status: Common.


The leopard has acute hearing so it can locate smaller prey, which may be hidden in undergrowth


The area within the rosettes is generally darker than the surrounding ground colour. Black spots are present on the lower limbs, with blotches on the underparts.


Incomplete broad black bands are evident towards the tip of the tail, which is usually black.


Having made a kill, a leopard will usually seek to drag the carcass up into a nearby tree, away from scavengers.