Indian Leopard

Most adaptable of all the cat species Leopards or Panthers are found almost through out the Indian Sub-continent. The Indian leopards are known to attain a length of at least 7ft with female being slightly smaller in size to the male. The Leopards vary in size throughout India and normally have bright coat with small black rosettes. The color may differ depending on the area where the leopard is found.

Leopard, India
Leopard


Leopard can live almost anywhere and thrive on almost anything. They are found in the deserts, in the hills, in the snow, in the dense forests, in the open grasslands, near the towns and villages. Other then the large prey species the leopard can hunt and kill every type of animal, birds like peacocks, partridge, porcupines. In the vicinity of villages the main prey of the leopards is the dog. They occasionally turn into cattle lifters and it sometimes result in man-animal conflict resulting in an animal becoming a man-eater.
Leopards breed throughout the year and generally 2-3 cubs are born per litter. The gestation period in Leopards is in between 85-95 days.

The Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) With its longish body and tail but with smaller length then the Leopard from plains the Clouded Leopard is more beautiful in appearance. The color of its coat is bright yellowish brown with tawny color on the under parts. It has stripes on its face like the smaller cats with two set of band running along the sides from ears to the back. The broad patches form a sort of clouded pattern on the body with tail having ornamental rings.

Clouded Leopard is found in the forests of Assam especially the areas of forests bordering Bhutan and Nepal. The Clouded Leopard inhabits the dense evergreen forests hunting in night hence is very difficult to see. It has very powerful jaws and has very big upper canine teeth which make it easier to kill deer and other large animals. It also has a tendency to turn into a cattle lifter like its other cousins in India.


The Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia)


Snow Leopard, India
Snow Leopard

Smaller in size then its brother from the plains the Snow Leopard has thick coat of soft grey fading to snow white with a longer bushy tail. The rosettes are less noticeable on Snow Leopards and the main distinct feature is its high forehead with short muzzle.

Snow Leopard is found throughout the Himalayan range right from Kashmir to Bhutan. It is now on the verge of extinction due to its large scale hunting for its pelt.

The normal habitat of the Snow Leopard is in the higher altitudes of the Himalayas sometimes reaching heights of 12-13,000 ft. mainly because of the inhospitable terrain very few studies have been done on the behavior of Snow Leopards. Snow Leopard hunts during the nights and its main prey base is the wild goats and sheep of the Himalayan range, Himalayan hare, marmots and occasionally birds. It also kills the domestic sheep & goats of the herdsman in the high pasture lands. On the setting of winters it migrates to the lower areas in search for food.
The cubs born per litter are normally 2-3 and the gestation is for 3 months.


Presence in India


Indian Leopards are easily spotted in the Corbett National Park, Kaziranga National Park and Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary.


Habitat


Indian Leopards prefer dry deciduous forests, desert ecosystems, tropical rainforests and northern coniferous forests.


Diet


Indian Leopards are carnivorous. They feed on monkeys, rodents, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish, wild pigs, wild boars and many more.


Reproduction


Indian Leopards mate through out the year. Females give birth to two cubs per litter. Cubs are weaned at about 4 months of age. New born open up their eyes between eight to tenth day of the birth.


Conservation status


Critically endangered


Lifespan


Indian Leopards live u to the 21 -23 years of age.

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