The leopard (Panthera pardus), is a member of the Felidae family and the smallest of the four “big cats” in the genus Panthera, the other three being the tiger, lion and jaguar. Once distributed across southern Asia and Africa, from Korea to South Africa, the leopard’s range of distribution has decreased radically because of hunting and loss of habitat, and the greatest concentration of leopards now occurs chiefly in sub-Saharan Africa; there are also fragmented populations in Pakistan, India, Indochina, Malaysia, and China. Due to the loss of range and declines in population, it is graded as a “Near Threatened” species by the IUCN. Its numbers are greater than other Panthera species, all of which face more acute conservation concerns.
Compared to other members of the Felidae family, the leopard has relatively short legs and a long body with a large skull. It is similar in appearance to the jaguar, although it is of smaller and slighter build. Its fur is marked with similar rosettes to those of the jaguar, though the leopard’s rosettes are smaller and more densely packed, and the leopard’s rosettes do not usually have central spots as the jaguar’s do. Both leopards and jaguars that are melanistic (completely black or very dark) are known as black panthers.
This example is from the Birmingham Alabama USA Zoo.
Nikon F3 180mm lens 1/250sec f5.6 EI400 Ektachrome