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Tiffany Domer's, Leopard Report
Project Name : Tiffany Domer's, Leopard Report
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Leopard
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One of the many endangered species today is the Leopard. The leopard is not really thought of as being endangered because it is a popular species. Since the higher demand for more fur coats, the populations of leopards has decreased rapidly. Their fur coats are so beautiful, so many rich women now buy leopard coats because of their color and because of the warmth they distribute. However, since many hunters have discovered the leopards natural habitat, it is only a matter of time before they are extinct.
  
To begin, the scientific name for the species is Panthera pardus ( Anonymous 2012f, 1). The name means " large feline of African and Asian forests usually having a tawny coat with black spots" (Anonymous 2006g, 1). Since leopards are Panthera pardus, there are many species that are related to them, called sub species ( Brakefield 2012, 4; Anonymous e 2008, 1). Some scientists believe that one of the sub species of the leopard the "Iriomote Cat" is a whole different type of species considering that it's scientific name is " Prionailurus bengalenis iriomotensis" ( Anonymous e 2008,1). There are other sub species of the leopard such as: the African Leopard, Persian Leopard, Indian Leopard, Sri Lanka Leopard, Indo-Chinese Leopard, North China Leopard, Amur Leopard, Javan Leopard, Arabian Leopard, Anatolian Leopard, Barbary Leopard, Caucasus Leopard, Sinai Leopard, and finally the Zanzibar Leopard ( Brakefield 2012,4). These sub species are due to the leopards having a wide range habitat ( Brakefield 2012, 4). The classification of the leopard's kingdom is animalia, phylum is chordata-subphylum verebrata, class is mammalia, order is carnivora, family is felidae, genus is panthera, and species is felis pardus. Scientists believe that the leopard evolved from the panthera aka the panther but also the lion and jaguar are close relatives to the leopards as well ( Anonymous 2012h, 1).

The leopard has a very wide range due to them being able to adapt to different environments which include open savannahs, jungles, forests, and mountain areas( Brakefield 2012,2). Leopards' only stay in one territory for only a few days which then causes overlapping ranges. Typically the male leopards range is much larger than the females which creates male ranges to overlap more than one female range ( Anonymous c 2012,2). To warn neighboring leopards of whose range it is they either produce a raspy cough, purr or roar. The leopard lives in many different places considering their wide range, these places are Africa,India,China,Korea and Siberia (Brakefield 2102,2). Usually leopards' prefer to be in dense bush in rocky surroundings and forest rivers( Anonymous c 2012,1).

The leopards' size, fur color and spots all depend on where they live. The environment is a great factor on their size and color. For example scientists have found that leopards in savannah areas are much larger than ones found in mountain areas due to the fact, leopards that live in savannahs have much larger prey than the others in mountain ranges.( Brakefield,2012,1). Leopards color variation ranges from golden/yellow, yellow/cream, deep gold and black ( Garman,2000,1). To go along with the coloration of them, they have black spots to compliment them. The spots on the leopards body are called rosette spots, these are different from the ones on their face because the ones on their face are just full black spots ( Garman 2000,1; Anonymous b 2012,1). It is said that leopards are the fifth largest Big Cat, with their body length being from 3-6.25 ft, to the tail ranging to 24-43 inches, and their weight ranges from 82-200 lbs( Brakefieled 2012,1). The leopard which is the darkest is known as the panther, since you can't see its spots underneath it's dark fur coat( Brakefield 2012,1). 

  

Leopards are nocturnal, so this means that they sleep during the day and hunt during the night (Anonymous c 2012,2). Typically if a leopard is marking their range they tend to use urine or claw marks to show that it belongs to them( Anonymous c 2012,2). When leopards hunt they use stealth, by inching closer to their prey slowly then springing into action using their powerful jaws to devour their prey (Anonymous 2012f,2). The leopards spots are an added part to their stealth. If the female leopard has young cubs, she will tend to hunt during daylight hours to protect and provide for them (Garman 2000,2).  Leopards' natural instinct is to live alone, because they prefer that (Anonymous b 2012,6).  When leopards hunt and kill their prey, to consume it they drag it up into a tree (Brakefield 2012,3).  Also they are very good swimmers which allows them to escape from predators who can not swim (Anonymous b 2012,6).  By dragging their prey up into a tree it shows their incredible strength (Garman 2000,2).
 
Depending on where the leopard lives its diet changes( Brakefield 2012, 3).  When leopards breed, their cub numbers range from 2-4 and are born blind (Brakefield 21012, 3).  Leopard cubs are only with their mothers for two years before they become like all the others living by themselves (Anonymous a 2012, 2). The Leopards life span is 10-15 years in the wild and 20 years in captivity( Brakefield 2012, 1). 

The leopards' species survival status is endangered. The main cause of them being endangered is fur trade among humans and too many settlements of humans (Anonymous b 2012, 8). Leopards ability to adapt to different climates has helped them survive, but as time goes on man will expand their settlements which leads to less habitats for leopards (Anonymous c 2012, 3). Also, since they have very pretty and soft fur, humans decide to kill leopards just for that (Anonymous c 2012,3). Plus besides the fur, humans use the whiskers tail and claws as something they worship (Anonymous c 2012,3). Leopards are sometimes a nuisance to farmers, so they end up getting killed by farmers just because they take up land (Anonymous c 2012,3).  On the other hand, some cultures consider them as symbols of wisdom (Anonymous c 2012,3). Today, in six countries, leopards are extinct (Anonymous d 2012,1).  

Today there are not very many scientific research documents on leopards since they were discovered many years ago. Current scientists discovered how a leopard mother conceived twins( Erwin 2007,1). Later they found that the twins are actually combined together (Erwin 2007,2). Both of the twins developed 4 limbs which in total equaled 8 (Erwin 2007,2). They also shared a fused skull two sternums and a set of ribs( Erwin 2007,2). According to scientists, leopards have genetic variation due to where they live in the world (Miththapala 2002,1). Scientists also noticed that leopards on islands do not have as much of a variation as leopards in other areas (Miththapala 2002,1). This is due to a confined space on many islands the leopards reside on. Because of the confined space they do not have much to choose from to adapt to (Miththtapala 2002,1).

Scientists did an experiment on how wide a leopards range is (David 2009,1). To conduct this experiment they put microchips in 1 male leopard and 2 females to distinguish how wide their ranges are (David 2009,1). They found that the male traveled farther than the females, while the females stayed in a close range (David 2009,1). In the end the male ended up overlapping the females range, which is typical in leopard males (David 2009,1).

Scientists found the genetic variation between the different subspecies of the leopard (Uphyrkina 2002,1). It has been discovered that there has been a greater threat to leopards due to their range being narrowed down( Uphyrkina 2002, 1). Humans expanding settlements also adds to the wild population being diminished, which then leads to less prey for leopards (Uphyrkina 2002, 1). This all leads to contributing factors of the decrease of leopards which makes their species endangered.

Research was also conducted on the leopards' diet (Hart 2008, 1). Scientists discovered what the leopards diet usually is by collecting scat samples (Hart 2008,1).  If humans keep encroaching on the wild life this will create more competition among larger predators (Hart 2008,1). Current research has been produced on how leopards are being hunted inside their protected areas (Hunter 2011,1).  As competition increases more populations will decline which will add more species to the endangered list.  

Leopards have many interesting facts about them. First of all leopards are nocturnal, this means that they have better chances of finding and hunting prey because most of them are sleeping and off their guard (Anonymous 2012f, 3).  Leopards diet has a great variety so they eat creatures such as antelopes to insects (Anonymous 2012f, 3). Also scientists have discovered that male leopards can carry prey that is three times their own body weight up a tree (Anonymous 2012f, 3). Also leopards may be a big cat but it cannot roar as loud as a lion, but it can purr (Anonymous 2012f,3). It is said that lions and hyenas will take leopards kill if they have a chance to, so that is another reason why leopards take their prey all the way up into a tree to make sure it is safe (Anonymous c 2012, 3).

My personal connection to the leopard is that when I was little my favorite wild animal was the leopard. Also in first grade we had to do a cereal box report on a certain wild animal that we had to select, so i chose the leopard. This helped me to already know some information on the leopard. Plus I have always found the leopard so interesting since it has a beautiful coat. Another connection I have with the leopard is that, it is probably the only wild animal I can draw well. The leopards spots are so elegant and it is such a great thing to draw. I also heard that the leopard is a symbol of wisdom in some cultures because of the way it expresses itself. Also  when ever my soccer team had a tournament down in San Diego near the museums, a couple of time I went to the Natural History museum. After my tournament we got second place in it, so to celebrate we went down to the museum. There I saw a lot of different exhibits and the one the appealed to me most was the one about the Big Cats. This exhibit had information on lions, jaguars, panthers, leopards, and cheetahs. I read the most on the leopard because I thought it was the most beautiful out of all of them. Later on that day there was a gift shop full of toys, books, shirts, etc. When I first got in there I ran straight to the leopard section where i got a stuffed animal that I still have today. The leopard is honestly my favorite wild animal out of all the rest of them. Plus the next time I go to San Diego I want to apply my knowledge about leopards that I have now to the knowledge of what the museum has. I also would have never thought that leopards would be nocturnal considering the fact there are videos of them in the day time actually hunting prey.  I have heard that leopards are the strongest big cat out of all of the big cats and since they can drag prey three times their size up a tree it is a fact that they are the strongest besides the lion and tiger. 

Obviously, if we do not stop the production of human settlements and the high demand of leopard fur coats, in about another century the endangered animals that we have today will be extinct. We have to stop illegal hunting of these elegant wild animals. Just think about how children of the next generation will never be able to see a live leopard if the population keeps decreasing.
Bibliography:
1. Anonymous a 2012 "Leopard"
http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/leopard/ 
2. Anonymous b 2012 " Leopard Panthera Pardus"
http://www.kidsplanet.org/factsheets/leopard.html 
3. Anonymous c 2012 "Leopard"
http://www.kidsplanet.org/factsheets/leopard.html
4. Anonymous d 2012 "A Species Under Threat"
http://www.panthera.org/species/leopard 
5. Anonymous e 2008 "History and Culture of Wild Cats"
http://www.hdw-inc.com/historycultureofwildcats.htm 
6. Anonymous 2012f "Leopard facts"
http://www.bbc.co.uk/bigcat/animals/leopards/leopards.shtml 
7. Anonymous 2006g "Panthera Pardus"
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/panthera+pardus 
8. Anonymous 2012h "Leopard"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopard 
9. Brakefield 2012 "The Animal Files"
http://www.theanimalfiles.com/mammals/carnivores/leopard.html 
10. David 2009 "Journal of Zoology"
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-7998.1996.tb05296.x/abstract 
11. Erwin 2007 "Cephalopagus Conjoined Twins in a Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis)'
http://www.jwildlifedis.org/content/44/1/177.full?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=
&andorexacttitle=and&andorexacttitleabs=and&fulltext=research+on+leopards&andorexactfulltext=and&
searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT

12. Garman 2000 "Leopard"
http://dialspace.dial.pipex.com/agarman/bco/leopard.htm 
13. Hart 2008 "Diet, prey selection and ecological relations of leopard and golden cat in the Ituri Forest, Zaire"
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2028.1996.tb00632.x/abstract 
14. Hunter 2011 " Munyawana Leopard Project"
http://www.biolsci.monash.edu.au/research/leopards/people.html 
15. Miththapala 2002 "Phylogeographic Subspecies Recognition in Leopards (Panthera pardus): Molecular Genetic Variation"
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1523-1739.1996.10041115.x/abstract 
16.Uphyrkina 2002 "Conservation Genetics of the Far Eastern Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis)"
http://jhered.oxfordjournals.org/content/93/5/303.abstract?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=
&fulltext=Leopards&andorexactfulltext=and&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT
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