Leopards are graceful and powerful big cats closely related to lions, tigers, and jaguars which live in sub-Saharan Africa, northeast Africa, Central Asia, India, and China. However, many of their populations are endangered, especially outside of Africa.
The leopard is so strong and comfortable in trees that it often hauls its kills into the branches. By dragging the bodies of large animals aloft it hopes to keep them safe from scavengers such as hyenas. Leopards are the smallest of the "big cats" but can pull prey one and a half times its own weight up a tree. Leopards can also hunt from trees, where their spotted coats allow them to blend with the leaves until they spring with a deadly pounce. These nocturnal predators also stalk antelope, deer, and pigs by stealthy movements in the tall grass. When human settlements are present, leopards often attack dogs and, occasionally, people.
Leopards are strong swimmers and very much at home in the water, where they sometimes eat fish or crabs.
May 3rd, 2014
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