WHY LEOPARD´S BEAUTY IS TIMELESS?
The leopards are not the only wild cats that belong to the family Felidae, but they indeed have the authentic place in the category of Panthera pardus. Together with the tiger, lion, jaguar and the snow leopard, they are creating the portray of magnificent wild cats that we must protect and ensure their happy and long life in wilderness.
If you ask me, I am not sure which wild cat is more beautiful, because I am amazed by all of them and sure that each of them has its own personality. Nevertheless, the leopard itself comes out with many interesting facts and deserve the own story in my book of beloved wild animals.
These wild cats have the toned body full of hunting muscles and secret movements. They are elegant, elusive and powerful. It is written that they are one of the most beautiful felines, having in mind their eminent black spots on golden yellow fur, and each example of cat has its own unique spots collage. It is something like cats’ visible DNA. Those spots are being called rosettes since they look like rose. If you compare many leopards and do the research, not any of them will have the same pattern. Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing even researched this phenomenon in his book “‘The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis “and advised that behind is strange math:” The patterns were far from random, he argued, and were the result of interacting chemicals that spread among groups of otherwise identical cells. He coined the term morphogen (morpho, from the Greek for ‘form’, and gen, from the Greek for ‘to beget’), meaning shape-formers. Turing was deliberately vague about what these morphogens were. They could be hormones, perhaps, or genes, the chemical nature of which, in the 1950s, was still to be unraveled. The main idea was that they diffuse and react with each other: this is now called the reaction-diffusion process. His theory – laid out in beguiling mathematics – had it that within tissue or cells there are two morphogens that act on one another: one creates the other, and makes more and more of itself, and the other, second chemical limits the creation of the first. Both diffuse, or in other words, spread out, at different rates. It has been compared to a predator-prey situation; the idea that, repeatedly in the development of a biological entity, two chemicals can work in tandem both independently and in competition. It’s as if one is chasing the other away. “This shows how precious is Mother Nature and how blessed we are all to have all those gracious wild beauties, to share the Earth with us. Many other things are also very specific to this type of cats. I find thrilling the fact that all leopards have small black marking, at the back of their round ears, that is like the follow me sign. The scientists think it is very useful for cubs to follow their mum, when the grass is tall.
They are the smallest from their wild cat relatives and their height is from 50 to 70 cm and the length is from 90 to 160 cm. Regarding the weight, it varies, depending on if it is male or female. The male could be between 31 and 75 kg while female somewhere between 17 and 65 kg. This is also defined by their whole-body architecture. The color is usually the remarkable, with dark spots but we also should know that there are leopards colored in shadow. They have dark fur, so it is not easy to note their popular rosettes and that’s why their name is black panthers. Those alluring animals are actually very rare, and they have been considered as exotic.
The leopards are not group animals, despite lions, but rather solitary animals that find their mate and make offspring occasionally and again separate the roads. They are connected to the territory, so they mark the area they live. They use urine, scratches or rub their faces against the vegetation so they leave the message. This is also some kind of defensive behavior in advance, preventive culture of the animal that protects its dominion.
Those skilled climbers are better than any human climber because they can bring their heavy prey on the tree and to enjoy their meal high in the branches, hidden from the potential enemies. They are known to be very silent, but they can communicate with vocal sounds, especially in mating season. Their diet is based only on meat and the ordinary wild cat with dark spots can eat up to 5 kg of meat per day. This fact makes them play the significant role in the food chain and natural birth control of many other animals, potential food resources.
The leopard cat is full of wonders. Beside their great climbing and hunting talents, they are pretty much adaptable on many weather conditions so they can live in different regions, from rainforests, via mountains to the deserts. Majority of those animals are in Africa and Asia, but they are highly vulnerable according to the IUCN Red List. As always, the main problem could be found in human industrialization that destroys the natural habitats of those beautiful cats. The second, there is a big danger for leopards to be abused in trophy hunting, as we are aware that some African lands give permission for illegal hunting and killing them. Hopefully, they can be protected because they are nocturnal animals, but this doesn’t make the issue less important. The universal regulation must be implemented and monitored so the wildlife crime could be stopped or even preventive blocked.
The leopard moms are one of the best in the wild world. They even stay with their cubs for almost 2 years, after they can successfully handle the challenges in the environment. The baby leopards are being born blind so they are very fragile and could be easily hurt.
It is very admiring to know that leopard is a perfect athlete with speed up to 60 km/h. They can’t compare to cheetahs, but they are unique themselves. We have 8 recognized subspecies of leopard and these are following: African leopard, Indian, Javan, Arabian, P.P. Tulliana, Amur leopard, Indochinese leopard and Sri Lankan leopard.
No matter where is located our spotted lion with enigmatic background of its rosettes, we must work together to ensure that this wonderful animal has safe habitat, and it is out of any trophy hunting perspective. Only then we can say we finally, as human race, understand the meaning of being a guardian of the Earth.
3 thoughts on “THE LEOPARD: CHARISMATIC SPOTTED LION”
Thank you for this excellent and educational article, Sarah ! I have definitely learned new things about leopards !
Sarah’s informative and delightful article reminded me of the fact that leopards are among the few existing mammalian species that originated in Africa and continue to survive throughout many continents…
The last common ancestor species of the leopards prevailed c. 6.4 million years ago in Southern Africa; a split from the Panthera lineage began c. 8.6 million years ago, though. The leopard species we know today emerged from splits via tigers and lions c. 4.35 million years ago. The oldest European leopard fossils date to c. 600,000 years ago.
During the initial periods of Homo sapiens (i.e. 300,000-20,000 years ago), leopards featured in artistic expressions, mythology and folklore. The ancient African kingdoms (c. 20,000 BCE – 1500 CE) all revered the leopard as a majestic and powerful animal; creating specific appellations for them (e.g. ‘Ingwe’ for Zulu peoples; meaning ‘pure kingship’).
The word ‘leopard’ derives from the Ancient Greek ‘λέοπάρδος’ (leopardos: ‘λέων’ – leōn [lion] + ‘ πάρδος’ – pardos [spotted]).
Leopards are precious and they reveal to humans the history of their evolution…
Was interesting want to know more about Javan leopards.