Panthera pardus 

Scope: Mediterranean
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Felidae

Scientific Name: Panthera pardus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Leopard
French Léopard, Panthère
Spanish Leopardo, Pantera
Felis pardus Linnaeus, 1758
Taxonomic Notes: According to genetic analysis, nine subspecies are recognized, with all continental African Leopards attributable to the nominate form (Miththapala et al. 1996, Uphyrkina et al. 2001). These include:

Panthera pardus pardus (Linnaeus, 1758): Africa
Panthera pardus nimr (Hemprich & Ehrenberg, 1833): Arabia
Panthera pardus saxicolor Pocock, 1927: Central Asia
Panthera pardus melas (Cuvier, 1809): Java
Panthera pardus kotiya Deraniyagala, 1956: Sri Lanka
Panthera pardus fusca (Meyer, 1794): Indian sub-continent
Panthera pardus delacourii Pocock, 1930: southeast Asia into southern China
Panthera pardus japonensis (Gray, 1862): northern China
Panthera pardus orientalis (Schlegel, 1857): Russian Far East, Korean peninsula and north-eastern China

The recognition of P. p. melas and P. p. nimr was based on very small sample sizes and is considered tentative.

Based on morphological analysis, Khorozyan et al. (2006) recognize P. p. tulliana (Valenciennes, 1856) in western Turkey and P. p. sindica (Pocock, 1930) in Pakistan, and possibly also parts of Afghanistan and Iran. They also consider P. p. ciscaucasica (Satunin, 1914) as the senior synonym for P. p. saxicolor.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered C2a(i) (Regional assessment) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2008-01-01
Assessor(s): Jdeidi, T., Masseti, M., Nader, I., de Smet, K. & Cuzin, F.
Reviewer(s): Temple, H. & Cuttelod, A.

Mediterranean regional assessment: Critically Endangered C2a(i). There are fewer than 250 mature individuals in the region, each subpopulation is <50 and is completely isolated (from each other and from populations outside the assessment region). The regional population is undergoing continuing decline.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The leopard occurs across most of sub-Saharan Africa, as remnant populations in North Africa, and then in the Arabian peninsula and Sinai/Judean Desert (Egypt/Israel/Jordan), south-western and eastern Turkey, and through Southwest Asia and the Caucasus into the Himalayan foothills, India, China and the Russian Far East, as well as on the islands of Java and Sri Lanka (Nowell and Jackson 1996; Sunquist and Sunquist 2002; Hunter et al. in press).

In sub-Saharan Africa, leopards remain widely, albeit now patchily, distributed within historical limits (see Hunter et al. in press, and references therein). Ray et al. (2005) estimated that leopards have disappeared from at least 36.7% of their historical range in Africa. The most marked range loss has been in the Sahel belt, as well as in Nigeria and South Africa. They have been locally extirpated from areas densely populated with people or where habitat conversion is extreme (Hunter et al. in press). They are likely extinct on Zanzibar, where there have been no confirmed records since 1996 (Hunter et al. in press).

In North Africa, a tiny relict population persists in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco (Cuzin 2003), and there was a probable observation on the Morocco-Algerian border in Figuig in 2007 (F. Cuzin pers. comm.), while a population was recently found in the Ahaggar of south-eastern Algeria, a region from which they had not previously been recorded (Busby et al. 2006). Leopard are likely extinct in Egypt, although they may occur in the Eastern Desert (Hunter et al. in press).

A 2006 Arabian Fauna Conservation Workshop estimated there were fewer than 200 leopards remaining on the Arabian peninsula, in three confirmed separate subpopulations: the Negev desert, the Wada'a mountains of Yemen, and the Dhofar mountains of Oman. Presence in Saudi Arabia is uncertain (Breitenmoser 2006, Spalton and Al Hikmani 2006).

I. Khorozyan (pers. comm. 2008) compiled detailed country information on the distribution of the Endangered Persian leopard as follows:

Russian North Caucasus: mountain ridges in the headwaters of the Avarskoe Koisu and Andiiskoe Koisu rivers (Republic of Dagestan). Possibly exists in the Chegem River canyon (Kabardino-Balkarian Republic); Erzi Reserve, Assa River valley (Republic of Ingushetia); Armkhi River basin (Republic of North Osetia-Alania), headwaters of the Sharoargun and Argun rivers (Chechen Republic) (Akkiev and Mokaev, 2006; Khorozyan and Abramov, 2007; Lukarevsky et al., 2007).

Georgia: Vashlovani Reserve in the south-east; Arkhoti River canyon in the upper part of the Assa River basin and the headwaters of the Andiiskoe Koisu River in the north-east (Lukarevsky et al., 2007). Some anecdotal records from south-western Georgia are either unreliable or can be attributed to individuals coming from north-eastern Turkey (Arabuli, 2006; Khorozyan and Abramov, 2007).

Armenia: south-western and southern parts of the country from Khosrov Reserve to the Armenian-Iranian state border throughout the Geghama, Zangezur, Aiotsdzor, Bargushat and Meghri ridges. The range boundaries are the Azat River in the north-west; Vardenis Ridge in the north; semi-desert of the Ararat Valley in the west; state border with Azerbaijan and the alpine meadow/nival belt transition zone in the south-west and east; Arax River basin along the Armenian-Iranian border in the south. Until the early 1970s it lived also in north-eastern parts of Armenia (Khorozyan et al., 2005; Khorozyan and Abramov, 2007).

Azerbaijan: Talysh Mts. in the extreme south-east, Akhar-Bakhar Ridge of the Iori-Mingechaur Highland in the north-west and the Zangezur Ridge in the Nakhichevan Republic along the state border with Armenia in the west (Lukarevsky et al., 2007).

Nagorno-Karabakh Republic: distribution in Shushi, Mardakert and Hadrut districts and in the adjoining Kelbajar district was recorded in 1941-1967 (Alekperov, 1966; Sludsky, 1973). Up-to-date information on leopard status is impossible to obtain for the political tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan over this republic, even though it plays a vital role as a corridor between the southern (Armenia, Azerbaijan's Nakhichevan Republic), central (Iori-Mingechaur Highland in Azerbaijan and Vashlovani Reserve in Georgia) and northern (Russian North Caucasus) parts of the Caucasus (Khorozyan and Abramov, 2007).

Iran: virtually all country, except the vast deserts of Desht-e-Kevir and Desht-e-Lut in central and eastern parts. Particularly common in the Alborz Mts. along the southern fringe of the Caspian Sea. Quite common in protected areas (e.g., Tandooreh, Sarigol, Bafgh, Golestan, Kolah'ghazy, Touran, Kavir, Khojir, Khabr and Bamu national parks; Kiamaki and Naybandan wildlife refuges; Jahan Nama, Central Alborz, Varjin, Arasbaran, Dena and Bahram'gur protected areas) and some unprotected lands (Chapur-Ghoymeh, Safee Abad-Dozain or Minoo Dasht, Ramsar, Khaeez and Darestan-Rudbar) (Joslin and Shoemaker 1988; Kiabi et al., 2002; Farhadinia et al. 2007; Abdoli et al. 2008; M Farhadinia and A. Ghoddousi pers. comms., 2008).

Turkey: north-east (around the Artvin city), east (vicinities of Mt. Ararat or Agri) and south-east (Bitlis Ridge). Possibly exists in the mountains of the Black Sea coast and south-westwards to the Taurus Mts. (H. Diker pers. comm., 2008). It is unclear whether leopards still survive in western Turkey.

Turkmenistan: western Kopetdag Ridge, central Kopetdag Ridge, eastern Kopetdag Ridge, Badkhyz Reserve and Giaz-Gyadyk Ridge (Lukarevsky, 2001).

Afghanistan: central (Hindu Kush, Kohe Baba, Kohe Paghman and Safed Koh ranges of the central highlands), north-eastern (Wakhan corridor) and northern (Darkad peninsula of Badakshan) parts of the country (Habibi, 2004).

In the Central Asian republics, leopard distribution is poorly known. Historically, leopards had a wider distribution in Turkmenistan, and were found in parts of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. An old male leopard was killed by a local hunter in January 2000 in Kazakhstan, the first record of the species in this country, in a location over 600 km from possible occurrences in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and over 1,200 km from known occurrences in Turkmenistan. It is aplso possible that the leopard travelled along the foothills of the Pamirs, then proceeded via the Ugam and Pskem ranges into the Talas river valley. Habitat appears to be suitable, but the existence of any leopard subpopulation in any of these three countries is uncertain (Shakula 2004).

In Pakistan, the leopard is thinly distributed in montane areas, and there have only been a handful of confirmed records in recent years (Ahmed 2001).

Leopards occur widely in the forests of the Indian sub-continent, through Southeast Asia and into China, although they are becoming increasingly rare outside protected areas. They are not found on the islands of Borneo or Sumatra (Nowell and Jackson 1996).
Countries occurrence:
Afghanistan; Algeria; Angola; Armenia; Azerbaijan; Bangladesh; Benin; Bhutan; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cambodia; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; China; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Djibouti; Egypt; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Georgia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; India; Indonesia (Jawa); Iran, Islamic Republic of; Israel; Jordan; Kenya; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Liberia; Malawi; Malaysia; Mali; Morocco; Mozambique; Myanmar; Namibia; Nepal; Niger; Nigeria; Oman; Pakistan; Russian Federation; Rwanda; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Swaziland; Tajikistan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Togo; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Uganda; United Arab Emirates; Uzbekistan; Viet Nam; Yemen; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Regionally extinct:
Hong Kong; Kuwait; Libya; Singapore; Syrian Arab Republic; Tunisia
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):5200
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The leopard is an adaptable, widespread species that nonetheless has many threatened subpopulations. While still numerous and even thriving in some marginal habitats from which other big cats have disappeared in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, in North Africa leopards are on the verge of extinction.

There are no reliable continent-wide estimates of population size in Africa, and the most commonly cited estimate of over 700,000 leopards in Africa (Martin and de Meulenaar 1988) is flawed. In India, based on pugmark censuses (a methodology which has been criticized as inaccurate), 9,844 leopards were estimated in 2001. Many populations are believed to be increasing, and there are high levels of human-leopard conflict (Singh 2005).

Several Asian subspecies are included on the Red List, with population information as follows:

Amur leopard P.p. orientalis CR C2a(ii),D: 14-20 (Anon. 2007)
Arabian leopard P.p. nimr CR C2a(I): <200 (Breitenmoser 2006, Spalton and Al Hikmani 2006)
Javan leopard P.p. melas CR C2a(i): 323-525, with <250 mature breeding adults (A. Ario pers. comm. 2007)
Sri Lankan leopard P.p. kotiya EN C2a(i): 700-950 (Kittle and Watson 2007)
Persian leopard P.p. saxicolor EN C2a(i): 871-1290 (Khorozyan et al., 2005; Lukarevsky et al. 2007)
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The leopard has the widest habitat tolerance of any Old World felid, ranging from rainforest to desert. In Africa, they are most successful in woodland, grassland savanna and forest but also occur widely in mountain habitats, coastal scrub, swampy areas, shrubland, semi-desert and desert. They range from sea level to as much as 4,600 m on Mt Kenya (Hunter et al. in press). In Southwest and Central Asia, leopards formerly occupied a range of habitats, but now are confined chiefly to the more remote montane and rugged foothill areas. Through India and Southeast Asia, Leopard are found in all forest types, from tropical rainforest to the temperate deciduous and alpine coniferous (up to 5,200 m in the Himalaya), and also occur in dry scrub and grasslands (Nowell and Jackson 1996).

Leopards have extremely catholic diets including more than 90 species in sub-Saharan Africa, ranging from arthropods to large antelope up to the size of adult male Eland Tragelaphus oryx (Hunter et al. in press). Densities vary with habitat, prey availability, and degree of threat, from fewer than one per 100 km² to over 30 per 100 km², with highest densities obtained in protected East and southern African mesic woodland savannas (Hunter et al. in press).

A study in Thailand found a home range of 8.8 km² for a radio-collared female, and 17.3-18 km² for two adult males (Grassman 1998). Important prey species were hog badger Arctonyx collaris (45.9%), muntjac Muntiacus muntjak (20.9%) and wild pig Sus scrofa (6.3%).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Throughout Africa, the major threats to Leopard are habitat conversion and intense persecution, especially in retribution for real and perceived livestock loss (Ray et al. 2005). In intact rainforest, the chief threat to Leopards is probably competition with human hunters for prey; the tremendous volume of wild meat harvests denudes forests of prey and may drive localized extinctions. Nonetheless, Leopard are somewhat tolerant of habitat conversion, and may persist close to large human populations provided they have suitable cover and prey (Hunter et al. in press).

Leopard come into conflict with people across their range. A rapidly increasing threat to Leopards is the poisoning of carcasses targeting carnivores, either as a means of predator control or incidentally.

The impact of trophy hunting on populations is unclear, but may have impacts at the demographic and population level, especially when females are shot. In Tanzania, which allows only males to be hunted, females comprised 28.6% of 77 trophies shot between 1995 and 1998 (Spong et al. 2000).

Skins and canines are still widely traded domestically in some central and West African countries where parts are used in traditional rituals and sold openly in villages and cities (Hunter et al. in press). Djibouti is an important conduit for Leopard skins from East Africa that are bought mainly by French military personnel and carried illegally to Europe.

In West Asia, small leopard subpopulations are threatened primarily by habitat fragmentation, killing in defence of livestock, and poaching for trade (Habibi 2004, Breitenmoser et al. 2006, Breitenmoser et al. 2007).

In Indo-Malaya, leopards are threatened primarily by habitat loss (deforestation) as well as poaching for illegal trade (Nowell and Jackson 1996). In India, leopards are feared for their attacks on people (Singh 2005).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Included on CITES Appendix I. Legal international traffic is limited largely to exports of skins and hunting trophies under a CITES Appendix I quota system by 13 African countries (2005 CITES quota is 2,590). Leopards are protected under national legislation throughout most of their range (Nowell and Jackson 1996). In Africa, although Leopards occur in numerous protected areas across their range, the majority of the population occurs outside of protected areas, necessitating a need for improved conflict mitigation measures (including livestock management, conflict resolution) (Hunter et al. in press). In West Asia, leopards are essentially restricted to protected areas, many of which are too small to support viable populations, and need expansion through buffer zones and connectivity through corridors (Breitenmoser et al. 2006, 2007). In Indo-Malaya and China, leopards need better protection from illegal trade in skins and bones (Nowell 2007).

Citation: Jdeidi, T., Masseti, M., Nader, I., de Smet, K. & Cuzin, F. 2010. Panthera pardus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T15954A5328595. . Downloaded on 19 September 2018.
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