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Wildlife

Spider-man of the animal world

Although small in size, the leopard, estimated at around 13,000 in India, is a skilled and versatile hunter. But the fact is that there are six leopard deaths for every tiger death in the country. This situation can change only if there is a specific leopard conservation policy that will realise the country’s potential to host an even larger population of this often ignored cat.

 

The leopard is the smallest species of the genus Panthera but is muscular and its head, neck and forelimbs are very strong.
The leopard is the smallest species of the genus Panthera but is muscular and its head, neck and forelimbs are very strong. Photo: Vijayarajan Muthu
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Caves and rock shelters are the usual haunts of this predator.
Caves and rock shelters are the usual haunts of this predator. Photo: Shravna Goswami
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The leopard’s prey is generally small- to medium-sized common wild and domestic mammals, but it is adaptable as far as its food habits and habitats are concerned.
The leopard’s prey is generally small- to medium-sized common wild and domestic mammals, but it is adaptable as far as its food habits and habitats are concerned. Photo: Neeraj Bantia
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They can swiftly climb straight up a clean-boled tree.
They can swiftly climb straight up a clean-boled tree. Photo: Neeraj Bantia
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They prefer the safety of trees where they can keep their troublesome co-predators such as tigers at bay.
They prefer the safety of trees where they can keep their troublesome co-predators such as tigers at bay. Photo: Indranil Paul
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The solid black melanistic colour variant of the leopard is not a different species.
The solid black melanistic colour variant of the leopard is not a different species. Photo: Manju Hegde
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Because there are a very small number of black leopards, their location is generally kept secret.
Because there are a very small number of black leopards, their location is generally kept secret. Photo: Manju Hegde
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Leopards are inherently shrewd and excellent at camouflage.
Leopards are inherently shrewd and excellent at camouflage. Photo: Nikhil Trivedi
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They are nocturnal and generally hunt at night.
They are nocturnal and generally hunt at night. Photo: Indranil Paul
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An alert adult taking stock of its surroundings.
An alert adult taking stock of its surroundings. Photo: Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun
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Leopards are prolific breeders, with a gestation period that is only three months long. Here, a mother and cub.
Leopards are prolific breeders, with a gestation period that is only three months long. Here, a mother and cub. Photo: Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun
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Generally elusive, the leopard is a great attraction for tourists.
Generally elusive, the leopard is a great attraction for tourists. Photo: Neeraj Bantia
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