INTERNATIONAL LEOPARD DAY
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- A new portal dedicated to leopards (Panthera pardus) was launched by the Cape Leopard Trust (CLT), an active predator conservation working group, on International Leopard Day (May 3) to promote and celebrate leopards worldwide.
- The launch of the website orgfollows the Global Leopard Conference held from March 13-19 by CLT, global wild cat organisation Panthera and some other organisations.
About the Leopard
- The leopard (Panthera pardus) is one of the five extant species in the genus Panthera, a member of the cat family, Felidae.
- The leopard is distinguished by its well-camouflaged fur, opportunistic hunting behavior, broad diet, strength, and its ability to adapt to a variety of habitats ranging from rainforest to steppe, including arid and montane areas.
- The earliest known leopard fossils excavated in Europe are estimated 600,000 years old, dating to the late Early Pleistocene.
- This middle-sized wild cat has a slim and long body with short, sturdy legs and a long tail, helping the animal to keep balance when in the trees.
- These cats are distributed across a huge area, stretching from sub-Saharan Africa to West Asia and the Middle East, reaching South and Southeast Asia and Siberia.
- Leopards are found in a wide variety of habitats including savanna and rainforest, grasslands, desert and semi-desert regions of southern Africa, woodlands, and riverine forests.
- Leopards are generally asocial animals, living solitarily and avoiding other leopards.
- Moreover, when leopards accidentally encounter each other, they can engage in a fight.
- Leopards produce a number of vocalizations, including growls, snarls, meows, and purrs.
- Cubs call their mother with an 'urr-urr' sound.
Diet and Nutrition
- Leopards are carnivores.
- The diet of these opportunistic feeders includes a huge variety of animals such as jackals, antelopes, gazelles, monkeys, duiker, eland, impala, wildebeest, birds, rodents, hyraxes, hares, snakes, sheep, goats, and insects.
- Leopards attain all required moisture from their food, so they can survive without drinking water for long periods of time.
- Leopards have polygynandrous (promiscuous) mating system, where both males and females mate with a number of mates.
- Presently, this animal suffers from loss and fragmentation of its natural habitat.
- Pest control is another serious concern, reducing the population of Leopards throughout their range.
- In central and western Africa, the animal is hunted for its skin and teeth, which are used in traditional rituals and ceremonial dresses.
- On the other hand, populations in Eurasia are exposed to illegal trade.
- The population of the species as a whole is currently declining, and the Leopard is classified on the IUCN Red List as a Vulnerable (VU) species.
- Leopards are top predators of their habitat, playing a significant role in the local ecosystem by controlling the numbers and health of the populations of wild ungulate species.
- Leopards can occasionally be seen passing through antelope herds without disturbing them. In order to inform antelopes that it's not hunting, the leopard usually flips its tail over the back, exposing the white underside.
- Leopards are closely related to Black panthers, living in humid forests. As a matter of fact, the latters are leopards, but with recessive melanistic genes.
- Compared to humans, these animals have an incredibly developed sense of hearing; leopards are able to hear five times more sounds than humans.
- Markings, covering their body, are called rosettes due to reminding roses of their shape.
- Along with the tiger, lion, and jaguar, the leopard is one of four big cats, meanwhile being the smallest of them.
- For safety, leopards tend to store their kills in trees, avoiding the disturbance of lions and hyenas that usually try to take away their kill.
- Leopards are exceptionally good swimmers and excellent jumpers, able to leap up to 6 meters forward and 3 meters high.
Q) Which of the following statements with reference to Leopard is/are correct?
a. Leopard is classified on the IUCN Red List as a Vulnerable (VU) species.
b. It is one of the five extant species in the genus Panthera.
c. Black panthers are also leopards.
Correct Answer: 4