All Leopard Subspecies that Inhabit our Planet

Leopard is a big cat known to all of us. They are Known for their distinctive golden-yellow coat covered in black spots and rosettes. Many of us are only familiar with the leopards of Africa and India. But apart from these, there are seven more sub-species of leopard that are unknown to many of us. 

What is Leopard:

Leopard is a large cat species under the Panthera genus. The English word leopard comes from the Latin word Leopardos. Where 'leōn' means 'lion', and 'pardos' means 'spotted'. That is, the leopard was considered as a spotted lion in ancient times.

The leopard is scientifically known as Panthera pardus. In 1902, Joel Asaph Allen designated the leopard as the type species of Panthera. The Latin word panther is derived from the ancient Greek 'pánthēr'. Latin 'pánthēr' is a hunting net used by the Romans in war to catch wild animals.

All leopard subspecies that inhabit our planet

Until the 20th century, scientists proposed twenty-seven subspecies of leopards. Nine valid subspecies were later identified by analyzing the mitochondria. These nine sub-species are:

01. African Leopard (Panthera pardus pardus)

02. Indian Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca)

03. Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis)

04. Persian Leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor)

05. Javan Leopard (Panthera pardus melas)

06. Arabian Leopard (Panthera pardus nimr)

07. North Chinese Leopard (Panthera pardus japonensis)

08. Indochinese Leopard (Panthera pardus delacouri)

09. Sri Lankan Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya)

Let's take a brief look at all the subspecies of Leopard.

01. African Leopard (Panthera pardus pardus):

African Leopard
African Leopard (Panthera pardus pardus)

The African leopard is the most widespread leopard subspecies and is found across various habitats in Africa. It is a medium-sized leopard with a broad range of coat colors, depending on its environment. The rosettes on its coat are generally smaller and more densely packed compared to other subspecies.

02. Indian Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca):

Indian Leopard
Indian Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca)

Also known as the Indian panther. Found in the Indian subcontinent, Indian leopards are well-adapted to a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and urban areas. It tends to be smaller in size compared to African leopards. The coat color can vary from pale yellow to deep gold, and the rosettes are larger and more spaced out than those of African leopards.

03. Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis):

Amur Leopard
Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis)

The Amur leopard is one of the rarest leopard subspecies and is native to the forests of eastern Russia and parts of China. It is characterized by a thick coat, pale yellow to deep orange in color, with larger and more widely spaced rosettes. The Amur leopard is critically endangered, with only a few individuals remaining in the wild.

04. Persian Leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor):

Persian Leopard
Persian Leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor)

Native to the mountainous regions of Iran and some other parts of the Middle East, The Persian leopard has a pale coat and is adapted to a variety of environments, from semi-desert areas to mountainous regions. The Persian leopard is also endangered. Its population has been significantly reduced due to habitat destruction and poaching.

05. Javan Leopard (Panthera pardus melas):

Javan Leopard
Javan Leopard (Panthera pardus melas)

Found on the island of Java in Indonesia, the Javan leopard is critically endangered. It has a dark golden-yellow coat with small, closely spaced rosettes. The population of Javan leopards has been declining due to habitat loss and poaching.

06. Arabian Leopard (Panthera pardus nimr):

Arabian Leopard
Arabian Leopard (Panthera pardus nimr)

This leopard subspecies is found on the Arabian Peninsula. It is adapted to arid environments and has a pale coat with small rosettes. The Arabian leopard is also critically endangered, with a very small and fragmented population.

07. North Chinese Leopard (Panthera pardus japonensis):

North Chinese Leopard
North Chinese Leopard (Panthera pardus japonensis)

Found in northern China, this leopard subspecies is adapted to temperate forests and mountainous regions. The coat coloration may vary, but it generally consists of rosettes.

08. Indochinese Leopard (Panthera pardus delacouri):

Indochinese Leopard
Indochinese Leopard (Panthera pardus delacouri)

Inhabiting parts of Southeast Asia, including Myanmar, Thailand, and the Indochina region, the Indochinese leopard prefers a variety of habitats, from evergreen forests to grasslands. Indochinese leopards have a coat color that ranges from pale yellow to deep gold. They have medium-sized rosettes and are adapted to a variety of habitats.

09. Sri Lankan Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya):

Sri Lankan Leopard
 Sri Lankan Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya)

Endemic to the island of Sri Lanka, this leopard subspecies is adapted to various habitats, including rainforests and grasslands. This leopard subspecies has a golden-yellow coat with large, widely spaced rosettes. It is slightly smaller than its Indian counterpart.

Each of these leopard subspecies has adapted to its specific environment, resulting in variations in size, coat color, and pattern. It's important to note that some of these subspecies are endangered or critically endangered, facing significant threats such as habitat loss, poaching, and conflicts with humans.

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