Posts Tagged ‘common leopard’

Indiana leopard

Yes. Indiana, not India.

ABC News reports:

An Indiana woman trying to protect her cats from wild animal attacks was stunned to discover that the animal she and her boyfriend shot, thinking it was a bobcat prowling in her backyard, was actually a leopard, and now authorities are trying to determine how it got there.

Officials at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources confirmed that a leopard, which is not native to North America — let alone Indiana — was found at the woman’s residence in Charlestown. The DNR is investigating where the animal might have come from.

Donna Duke, a friend and neighbor of the woman who found the leopard, told ABC affiliate WDRB-TV in Louisville, Ky., that the woman had been concerned about her cats after a spate of attacks on pets in her area..

“She’s got cats that are basically her family,” Duke told WCRB.

According to Duke, the woman and her boyfriend stayed up all night Thursday to determine whether there was a bobcat loose in their area. When they saw the big cat in the woods at the edge of her property, the woman’s boyfriend shot and killed the animal before it could get any closer, not realizing it was a leopard.

Residents of Indiana are allowed to own exotic large cats but they must have a permit. The owner of a local wildlife refuge center located near the woman’s home told WDRB-TV that none of his animals were missing.


There are Alien Big Cats out there, but to prove their existence, we need a body. These bodies are strangely lacking in the UK, where there is a strong cultural tradition of big black cats. Americans own lots of inappropriate wildlife. Many states, including Indiana, really don’t regulate the ownership of these animals.

After all, Indiana and most other states like it assume that their citizens have some common sense!

I don’t think there is a freely breeding population of leopards in Indiana or Kentucky, but it is possible that an escapee can last a while out in the bush.

And long-time readers of the blog know that I once made a comparison between letting pet cats wander and turning out a leopard into a neighborhood.

When this actually happened, you can see what the reaction was.

The leopard wound up dead.

There is now a lot of discussion in many states and at the federal level about how to regulate private ownership of big cats.

Some people want it banned entirely– which I think sounds good in theory.

But there are so many privately owned big cats in America that it is going to be next to impossible to regulate anything.

A ban will work about as well as a ban on marijuana or booze.

It could actually make things worse.

People could start turning their animals out into the wild, or moving so far back into remote areas with them that the cats never see a veterinarian and get proper care or housing.

What we need is an effective regulatory regime.

I don’t know why people want to own animals like leopards. but they do.

And maybe the best course of action is to find commonsense regulations on their ownership.

At very least, there should be prison time for anyone who intentionally releases one of these animals into wild.

These animals deserve so much better, but we need to think it through.

Good intentions can occasionally bring about very negative unforeseen consequences.

I don’t the North America needs a population of freely breeding leopards running around.

But we could get it if we don’t carefully consider how we are going to regulate their ownership.

Some might doubt whether these animals could survive long enough in the wild to become proficient hunters of deer, but the truth is this one was hunting house pets– much easier prey.

It’s very sad that this poor leopard lost its life. When it is fully examined, my guess is that they will find that it only recently escaped or was released from the wild.

It’s a strange animal to keep as a pet.

But people have always tried to tame the big Carnivorans.

We managed to domesticate only one.

So far…

And some people just won’t give up, no matter how many dogs and cats and kids get killed.


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This "strawberry" leopard appears to be unable to produce black pigment. Its nose and lips, as well as the skin around its eyes, appear to be reddish brown.

From io9.com:

You’re looking at the only known example of what conservationists are calling a strawberry colored African leopard. The big, pink-hued cat — which makes its home at South Africa’s Madikwe Game Reserve — is affected by erythrism, a poorly understood genetic condition that causes him to either overproduce red pigments or underproduce dark pigments in his coat.

“It’s really rare,” explained Luke Hunter, president of the wild cat-conservation group Panthera, whom Madikwe officials consulted with about the cat’s unusual coloration. “I don’t know of another credible example in leopards.”

According to National Geographic, erythrism is unusual in [wild] carnivores, which makes sense if you think about it — pinkish fur, after all, is probably not the most ideal form of camouflage for animals whose predatory techniques rely on stealth. But this particular leopard appears to be doing fine. “He’s obviously a successful animal,” said Hunter.

This is the first one that has been seen in recent times. However, Messybeast.com, a great resource for information about just about anything relating to unusual animals, has several images of taxidermies of what appear to be red leopards with a similar mutation, though much darker red in color. (There are some really interesting morphs on that page. The “cobweb panther” looks like a melanstic leopard with ich!)

There is some suggestion that these dark red leopards are faded black leopards, which is a possibility.  Spots can still be seen on black leopards, so exact chemical make up of the fur on the spots is different from the fur that comprises the background.

So it is possible that these red leopards are faded black ones. The fading could have happened due to age or the treatments used to preserve the skin.

I am not sure if anyone has examined these mahogany red leopards to see what they exactly are or were.  DNA could be extracted from at least some of these taxidermies. And then we could find out if they were black leopards or not.

This strawberry or red coloration is likely a recessive trait, and this should be of concern to leopard conservationists.

Several years ago, a brown and white giant panda was discovered in the Qinling Mountains.

It is generally pretty uncommon for very rare recessive traits to be expressed in the wild.

It’s just the nature of recessive traits. They can only be expressed when they are homozygous, and in nature, there is usually enough mixing of genes to keep recessives  diluted in a population.

When the brown panda was discovered, there became lots and lots of worries about inbreeding the Qinling Mountain pandads, which are the more stressed and fragmented of the two populations of giant pandas. Habitat fragmentation may mean that these pandas are becoming inbred, and a sign of that inbreeding is the sudden appearance of unusual recessive traits that are normally hidden.

We don’t typically think of common leopards as being endangered at all.

They are currently the most widespread of the big cats, and range from South Africa all the way to the Russian Far East. They are currently extirpated from much of North Africa and the Middle East, and there is an unusual isolated population of leopards on Java, which are somewhat smaller than normal common leopards.

However, genes do not flow across Asia and Africa as they once did.

As I noted earlier, leopards no longer exist in most of the Middle East and North Africa. Only isolated populations still exist.

And even within the core of leopard range in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, the habitat is greatly fragmented.

Leopards and lions no longer cast genes across vast areas. Very often, they are left in smaller preserves, where it is very easy for genetic bottlenecks to form. Dominant males, which rule prides in lions and overlapping territories of females in leopards, are not overthrown on a regular basis, making it more and more likely for a male to wind up mating with his daughters. New blood in the form of enterprising young males no longer enters the gene pool.

Madikwe is actually trying to solve some of these problems. There is a current move to create a corridor between it and Pilanesberg National Park.

This corridor would allow more of a gene flow to exist between populations of lions and leopards, and it would be a great asset to genetic sustainability of wildlife in this region.

This is more and more of a problem than one might expect.  Leopards are considered “near threatened” by IUCN, and lions are considered “vulnerable,” a much more serious distinction.  If lions and leopards cannot exchange genes over a larger area, the better for both species. Neither has experienced much inbreeding in their natural history, and thus, they have no had an opportunity to experience much purging or evolve any inbreeding tolerance.

Unusually colored wild animals often attract attention, but they can be indicative of more serious problems.

This cat seems to be doing fine.

Let’s just hope the population in which he lives will continue to thrive.


I should note that there are situations in which recessives can exist at much higher levels than one might normally expect.

One of these traits has a certain selective advantage, it will appear much more frequently than normal recessives.

Among these is melanism in leopards.

Melanistic leopards are most common in jungle or rainforest environments — particularly in Southeast Asia– where it may confer an advantage. A black cat can easily hide the shadows of the night, and because leopards are the consummate ambush predators, this might explain why there are so many black leopards– even though this is a recessive trait.

There is some suggestion now in the literature that melanism may also enhance the immune system.

But if recessives do not confer any advantage, they normally aren’t very common at all.

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It is amazing how similar their behavior and mannerisms are to domestic dogs, even though they are more distantly related to domestic dogs than we are to chimpanzees

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From Science Daily:

Recent camera trap images from the rocky terrain of Afghanistan’s central highlands have revealed a surprise: a Persian leopard, an apex predator long thought to have disappeared from the region, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

In a series of images that provides indisputable proof that the big cat persists in the country’s interior, a big adult leopard can be seen prowling around the camera trap’s field of view and investigating the camera itself, appearing to threaten it with canines exposed.

The camera traps captured dozens of images of other wildlife species, including lynx, wild cat, wolf, red fox, and stone marten, an impressive suite of predators still surviving in the Hindu Kush highlands, where Wildlife Conservation Society scientists and Afghan rangers have been conducting surveys in recent months.

“To see such a varied array of wildlife after we have endured so much conflict gives us hope for Afghanistan’s future,” said Mostapha Zaher, Director General of Afghanistan’s National Environmental Protection Agency. “Intact ecosystems represent a foundation for our country’s reconstruction and development. This is also our heritage, our natural resources, our fauna and flora. It is incumbent upon all of us to conserve and protect our environment and hand it over to the next generation of the citizens of Afghanistan.”

Camera traps give conservationists a valuable research tool in remote wildlife areas. In addition to providing a cross-section of an ecosystem in terms of the presence and absence of wildlife, the devices record data that, in sufficient quantities and placement, can be used to generate population estimates for individual species.

“The presence of leopards and lynxes in Afghanistan tells us that these big cats are finding enough prey to survive,” said Ghani Ghuriani, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock. “This means that the rangelands can still support ibex, urial, and other species, which is a good sign for both wildlife and the people of this region who also depend on these grasslands for grazing.”

Peter Zahler, Deputy Director of WCS’s Asia Program, said: “We are thrilled by these images and the story of survival that they tell, but we were sobered by the fact that the cameras also took photographs of local people walking past with guns. Poaching is still a very real threat, and WCS is committed to helping the Afghan government and local communities protect these rare and beautiful animals.”

With the assistance of WCS and in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the government of Afghanistan has launched several initiatives to safeguard the country’s wild places and the wildlife they contain. This includes the creation of the country’s first and only national park, Band-e-Amir, in 2009, which is co-managed by local villagers and the government. The park provides jobs and revenue from the thousands of tourists who visit each week during the summer months. WCS worked with Afghanistan’s National Environment Protection Agency to create the country’s first-ever list of protected species, which prohibits the hunting of snow leopards, brown bears, and other wildlife. WCS provides educational workshops for soldiers at Bagram Air Base and other military bases across Afghanistan in an effort to limit illegal wildlife trade in the country that threatens leopards and other fur-bearing animals.

With USAID support, WCS has worked with the Afghan government, UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), and others to craft new environmental laws and regulations and train government officials in their application. WCS works directly with more than 55 local communities in Afghanistan to better manage their natural resources. WCS staff train and deploy community rangers to monitor wildlife, and patrol the region to stop poaching and enforce the new environmental laws.

Common leopards do prey upon people and livestock, so conflicts between people and leopards need to worked out.

I don’t know if we just didn’t know that the Persian leopard subspecies of the common leopard were found in that part of the world or if they are actually returning to recolonize part of their former range.

Afghanistan is far from the easiest place for people to visit.

Afghanistan has been at war off and on for the past 30 years, and natural history and conservation haven’t been a major priority.


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That cat is an Indian leopard, even though the caption clearly says “Chetah [sic] for Hunting–India.”

I hope they didn’t try to use that leopard to hunt blackbuck or deer.

Leopards are ambush predators. They rely upon camouflage and their strength to bring down much larger prey than themselves.

I doubt that a leopard would have been any use at hunting these animals in the same fashion as the trained hunting cheetahs.

And if a leopard caught one, leopards are much more protective of their kills than cheetahs are. I’d hate to have to fight one off a kill.

Leopards have another important disadvantage. They are among the few animals that normally consider people to be a prey source. As far as I know, cheetahs really don’t hunt people or attack them unless threatened.

Leopards think we taste pretty good.

But we’re not nearly as tasty as our dogs are.



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