Persian Leopard: Panthera pardus saxicolor

02/24/2009 16:10


          Many of the species that exist today are in danger of extinction. Humans’ behavior threatens the animals’ lives in the world. Many mammals are species that are in danger of extinction. Mammals are warm-blooded and vertebrae animals. Mammals consist of 5400 species including humans. Mammals are the species that have hair somewhere on their body. A mammal’s hair is for its protection from an unpleasant environment (Hickman et al). Illegal hunters hunt them for their skin and teeth and their own benefits and put them in threat of extinction. Mammals have developed a nervous system and numerous ingenious adaptations. They are able to adapt in almost every environment on Earth that supports life. Mammals are diverse in size, shape, form and function.  Mammals include about 1200 genera, 153 families and 29 orders (“Mammal”). Mammals appeared on the Earth 200 million years ago.

          The leopard is one of the mammals that is in threat of extinction. The leopard is the smallest member of the four great cats and is most closely related to the jaguar. Their common name is leopard; they belong to Animalia kingdom, Chordata phylum, Mammalia class, and Carnivore order. They are members of Felidae family, and their genus is Pantherinae Panthera, and their species is pardus. The leopard can adapt to almost all types of habitat except for only the interior of large deserts. In their range they are only large predator in the rain forests. Their distribution is all over Africa, from the Arabian Peninsula through Asia to Manchuria and Korea. The leopard is capable of breeding after age two or three, and after a gestation of 90-100 days they produce one to three cubs. The cubs become independent between 13-18 months. In captivity, leopards have lived 23 years, as compared to 10-11 in the wild (“Leopard”).  The leopard usually is a light tan color with a rosette-pattern coat and a long tail. Leopards have a large skull and massive jaw muscles (“Leopard Panthera pardus”). The Persian Leopard is one of the five leopards (the others are Amur, Chinese, Sri Lankan and Arabian) that have been monitored for as long as almost 25 years (“Leopard”). The Persian Leopard is in danger of extinction.


          The Persian leopard or Iranian leopard is one of the subspecies of leopards, Panthera pardus saxicolor, which they are native to western Asia (Vandermey).  The Persian Leopard is endangered all over its distribution in the Middle East. The Persian leopard’s existing range extends over the Middle East and its total number is approximately 1300 individuals.  Iran and Afghanistan and their bordering countries are the places where the Persian leopard exists. Most of the leopards are found in Iran (550-850 animals) and particularly in its northwest part bordering southern Armenia and Azerbaijan (160-275 animals). The number of leopards in Afghanistan is unknown, but should be several hundreds (Khorozyan). The Persian leopard’s habitat is in wooded, highland and mountain areas, but they can adapted to many places with a cold or warm climate. They are great runners; they can run 36 miles an hour (58 kilometers per hour). They leap about 20 feet (six meters) forward in a single bound, and ten feet (three meters) up (“Mammals: leopard”). Their diet is mostly birds and mammals up to the size of an ibex. The leopard is a solitary animal. They are excellent climbers and good swimmers. After they kill their prey by ambush, they consume it on a high branch to protect it from competitor (“Persian Leopard”). They are unbelievably strong; they are capable of lifting the remains of their prey three times heavier than their own weight in their mouth and placing them on branches of trees over 50 feet (15 meters) high. They take their prey on the branches to protect their food from other predators, such as lions and hyenas (“Mammals: leopard”). They are active at night, and during the day they rest under thick bushes or in the trees. The Persian leopard can live with out drinking water for long period of time and get its moisture form their prey (“Mammals: leopard”).

           The Persian leopard’s head and body length is between 3.5-6 feet and it is 1.5-2.5 feet high at the shoulder. The tail is 2-3 feet long. The male is heavier than female and its weight is around 66-155 pounds. They have a variable coat, basically black spots on beige to a pale-beige background; the inside of spots may be rust-colored. The Persian leopard has small spots on its head and larger ones on the belly and limbs that are arranged in rosettes on the back and upper limbs. The Persian leopard is usually densely haired with finer hair, and more cold-tolerant than Panthera pardus of Africa and India. They usually have one to four cubs; the cubs are born blind and they become mature at about 2.5 years (Iranian leopard 1-2). The cubs’ coats appear dark gray and the rosettes are not clear and their mother keeps them hidden for eight weeks, and when they are six or seven weeks old, she gives them meat (“Wildlife Leopard”).

          The Persian leopard is listed as one of the subspecies in danger of disappearance. Illegal hunters are a serious problem for wildlife.  Today the Persian leopard fur trade is on the Kabul market in Afghanistan. Sometimes they kill the Persian leopard for its skin and sometimes they kill the leopard’s prey. Before 1972, when the Persian leopard was declared an officially protected mammal and entered the Red Data Books of Armenia and the USSR as “endangered,” it was officially killed as a vermin and for their valuable skin. In the middle of 1970’s the leopard disappeared from northern Armenia (Khorozyan). Today the larger population of the Persian leopard exists in northwestern Iran. The subspecies Panthera pardus saxicolor is extremely rare, both in the wild and in captivity (“Iranian leopard”).

          Today zoos are protecting the rare The Persian leopard and they put them in the environment in which they can reproduce their offspring, and Hungary’s Budapest Zoo is one of them. Rare Persian leopard triplets were born on June 19, 2007, at Hungary’s Budapest Zoo. The cubs are a male and two females. The triplets will stay in Budapest for about a year, and they will be transferred to other zoos around the world. Fewer than 2000 The Persian leopards are living in the wild, and 74 leopards live in zoos (“Zoo Shows…”).


          Some species extinct because of environment and climate change, and some because of human’s over hunt them. Many mammals are endangered because of human behavior. We need to protect the existence species for next generations. The number of Persian leopard is increasing in captivity but they are still in the list of endangered species. Today governments trying to protect this species, but human’s population growth and behavior put them in danger of extinction. We hunt them for fun and for our advantage. We need to protect all kind of species; with our protection next generations will see the species alive not just their pictures in the science history books. We need to change our behavior and let the other species live in peace in this world, because we are not the only species on the Earth.










                          Works Cited

Bachmann, Dan.  TREKNATURE. “Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor).”  Photo. 2004. 1 Oct. 2007


Hickman, Jr., Cleveland P., and Larry S. Roberts, and Allan Larson, and Helen I’ Anson, and

                    David J. Eisenhower. “Mammals”. Integrated Principles of Zoology. Ed. Kent A.

                    Peterson.13th ed. McGraw-Hill. New York. 2006. 595-618. 

 “Iranian leopard.” Lincoln park Zoo. 1 Oct. 2007


 “Leopard.” Big Cat Rescue. 2006. 27 Sep. 2007 <>

 “Leopard Panthera pardus.” 1 Oct. 2007


“Mammal.” Wikipedia. 28 Oct. 2007 <>

“Mammals: leopard.” San Diego Zoo. 31 Oct. 2007


“Persian Leopard.” Zoological Gardens. 1 Oct. 2007


Khorozyan, Igor. et al. “Persian Leopard Prowls Its Way to Survival, The.” Apr. 2005.

                     24 Oct. 2007


 “Zoo Shows Rare Persian Leopard Triplets.” 27 Sep. 2007


Vandermey, Nancy. “Persian Leopard”. 27 Sep. 2007


“Wildlife Leopard.” American Wildlife Fundation. 31 Oct. 2007    



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