The leopard (Panthera pardus) has a beautiful rosette patterned coat and is the most widespread of all the big cats. The leopard occurs across both Africa and Asia, however in just a few decades has lost more than 30% of its range. Although leopards are adaptable and occupy diverse habitats at all altitudes, they are becoming critically endangered in parts of their range that are under extreme anthropological pressure.
Leopard (Panthera pardus)
African Leopard in Etosha National Park, Namibia
Image by Patrick Giraud, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Panthera Lineage

Tiger (Panthera tigris)

Lion (Panthera leo)

Jaguar (Panthera onca)

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia)

Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa)

Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)

Key Facts Leopards

~ Most widespread of big cats ~

~ Melanism (black coat) common ~

~ Diverse habitats ~

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Leopard (Panthera pardus) Classification

Leopards belong to the big cat genus Panthera and the full taxonomy or scientific classification of the leopard species (Panthera pardus) is as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia (animals)

Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)

Class: Mammalia (mammals)

Order: Carnivora (carnivores)

Suborder: Feliformia (cat-like)

Family: Felidae (cats)

Subfamily: Pantherinae (big cats / pantherine)

Genus: Panthera (big cats)

Species: Panthera pardus (leopard)

Subspecies:

Panthera pardus delacouri

Panthera pardus fusca

Panthera pardus kotiya

Panthera pardus melas

Panthera pardus nimr

Panthera pardus orientalis

Panthera pardus pardus

Panthera pardus tulliana

The scientific name for leopard is Panthera pardus which is also known as the leopard binomial name, leopard species name, leopard latin name, leopard biological name and leopard zoological name. Some call it the leopard botanical name however that term is applicable to the plant kingdom (botany) and not the animal kingdom (zoology).

Big Cats of the World Print
Big Cats of the World by Roger Hall
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African leopard walking

Leopards of the World Print
Leopards of the World by Roger Hall
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Leopard (Panthera pardus) Subspecies

Leopard Lower Classifications

Historically up to nine subspecies of leopard were recognized based on genetic analysis, and a further two leopard subspecies based on morphological analysis alone (not listed here):

  • Panthera pardus pardus - African Leopard
  • Panthera pardus nimr - Arabian leopard (CR Critically Endangered)
  • Panthera pardus saxicolor - Persian leopard (EN Endangered)
  • Panthera pardus melas - Javan leopard (CR Critically Endangered)
  • Panthera pardus kotiya - Sri Lankan leopard (EN Endangered)
  • Panthera pardus fusca - Indian leopard
  • Panthera pardus delacouri - Indochinese leopard
  • Panthera pardus japonensis - North Chinese leopard (EN Endangered)
  • Panthera pardus orientalis - Amur leopard (CR Critically Endangered)

Leopards at the species level globally are listed as Vulnerable (VU) with the populations in the Mediterranean region rated as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List. Six leopard subspecies have a more severe threatened status as per subspecies assessments conducted in 2008 and indicated above.

Reference: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Panthera pardus. 7 Feb 2017.

As per the recent Felidae taxonomic revision the following eight leopard subspecies (or leopard lower classifications) are proposed:

  • Panthera pardus pardus - Africa
  • Panthera pardus tulliana - South West Asia
  • Panthera pardus fusca - India
  • Panthera pardus kotiya - Sri Lanka
  • Panthera pardus delacouri - South East Asia
  • Panthera pardus orientalis - Eastern Asia
  • Panthera pardus melas - Java
  • Panthera pardus nimr - Arabia
Reference: Kitchener et al. 2017. A revised taxonomy of the Felidae. The final report of the Cat Classification Task Force of the IUCN / SSC Cat Specialist Group.

Leopard Conservation

The following organizations are all fighting to conserve our beautiful leopards in the face of persecution, trophy hunting and habitat loss:

Please support these organizations with their important work. No matter how small or large your contribution, every bit helps!

African leopard walking down a sand dune

Male African leopard stretching

Leopard Facts and Information

The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on leopards:


Leopard Art Prints by Barbara Keith (available with or without frames)

Images copyright Barbara Keith

Leoaprd Art - Felicitous by Barbara Keith
Leopard Print - Felicitous by Barbara Keith
Leopard Art - Shadow Hunter by Barbara Keith
Leopard Print - Shadow Hunter by Barbara Keith
Leopard Art - Potency by Barbara Keith
Leopard Print - Potency by Barbara Keith