Some amazing and interesting facts about Leopards
Stealthy and elusive, perhaps would be the two most common and appropriate attributes to define this beautiful creature, Leopard (Panthera pardus) a member of the family Felidae. Indian Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca), a subspecies of Leopard is widely spread on the Indian subcontinent. Worldwide, Leopards are scattered ranging from tropical rain forests to dry deciduous ones, from grasslands to deserts and mountains. In India they are widely distributed in most of the forests but it can pretty much be a task to spot this shy creature as they are the champions in camouflaging.
In 2015, the first ever India’s Leopard count was conducted that estimated their population at 7,910. This count had excluded a few habitats and the census did not cover higher Himalayas, Gujarat, parts of Rajasthan and East India and the entire northeast. According to the census, Madhya Pradesh has the highest count of Indian Leopard at 1,817.Most Leopards are light tan with distinctive dark spots called rosettes as they look similar to a rose or resemble the shape of a rose. Many a times Leopards have a solid dark colour and that is due to their being melanistic. The excess black pigment melanin makes the spots hard to differentiate. They are commonly referred to as Black Panthers, the same that is one of the most stunning characters of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book whose name is Bagheera.
Leopards are nocturnal and during the day they usually rest in trees. Most of their lifetimes they prefer to lead solitary lives, more specifically males, exception being the mating time. Leopards usually mate throughout the year. The gestation period is of 90-105 days with an average litter size of one to three. An Indian male Leopard can weigh between 30-70 kg while female can weigh between 28- 60 kg. Leopards are very agile and swift. They can run at over 36 miles per hour, leap over 20 feet and jump up to 10 feet.Leopards are good swimmers and have an excellent hearing. A leopard’s tail plays a very important role in balancing while running, jumping, turning sharply or leaping.
A male leopard can drag a carcass twice its own body weight. Leopards have different vocalizations. They can roar and are even known to purr. With the maturing of the kittens, their baby spots transforms into more remarkable rosettes. Increasing conflicts with humans, poaching and loss of habitat are the biggest threats for the Leopards in India. Indian Leopards are listed in Schedule 1 of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and are listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.
Courtesy: Malvika Verma
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