[View all Pictures of the Week 2012]
Leopards are my favorite species of cats!
Since 2002 I am supporting a leopard conservation project in South Africa. It is called the Munyawana Leopard Project.
This week’s picture is of one of the female project leopards walking the boundries of her territory at dusk.
If you like to know more about this project and the organisation which runs the project go to www.panthera.org/programs/leopard/munyawana-leopard-project.
If you like to see more of my pictures taken for the project go to www.sperka.biz/mlp.
For more leopard images from my various trips to southern Africa go to www.sperka.biz/leopard.
The Leopard (Panthera pardus) is the smallest of the four “big cats” in the genus Panthera, the other three being the tiger, lion, and jaguar. It was once distributed across eastern and southern Asia and Africa, from Siberia to South Africa, but its range of distribution has decreased radically because of hunting and loss of habitat. It is now chiefly found in sub-Saharan Africa; there are also fragmented populations in the Indian subcontinent, Sri Lanka, Indochina, Malaysia, Indonesia, and China. Because of its declining range and population, it is listed as a “Near Threatened” species on the IUCN Red List.
Compared to the other “big cats”, the leopard has relatively short legs and a long body with a large skull. Both leopards and jaguars that are melanistic (completely black or very dark) are known as black panthers. The species’ success in the wild is in part due to its opportunistic hunting behavior, its adaptability to habitats, its ability to run at speeds approaching 58 kilometres per hour (36 mph), its unequaled ability to climb trees even when carrying a heavy carcass, and its notorious ability for stealth.