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.
Leopard (Panthera pardus) - Panthera lineage
African Leopard in Etosha National Park, Namibia
Image by Patrick Giraud, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Leopard (Panthera pardus) Unique Facts

~ Most widespread of the big cats ~

~ Melanism (black coat) is quite common ~

~ Occupies diverse habitats at all altitudes ~


Leopard (Panthera pardus) Classification

The 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)

African leopard walking

Leopard (Panthera pardus) Subspecies

Lower classifications

Leopards of the World Print
Leopards of the World by Roger Hall
View Leopards of the World Print

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

Leopards at the species level globally are listed as Vulnerable (VU) with the Mediterranean region as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List.

The nine subspecies and the status as per assessments last conducted in 2008 are:

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

As per the recent Felidae taxonomic revision the following eight subspecies 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 (Panthera pardus) Conservation

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

African leopard walking down a sand dune

Male African leopard stretching


Leopard (Panthera pardus) Facts and Information

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

  • Leopard Fact Sheet - ARKive
  • Leopard Images and Video Clips in the Wild - ARKive
  • Leopard Infographic - Panthera

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