Where do leopards live? In the wild, of course – right?

Leopard in the orange sand dunes of the Kgalagadi in Botswana

When asking about any wild animal, including the leopard, most people don’t actually know where they live. They might have a vague idea, like ‘the wild,’ but that doesn’t quite narrow it down enough.

According to the dictionary definition, the ‘wild’ describes any place that is ‘uninhabited, uncultivated, or inhospitable.’ Basically, any place without humans living there is the wild.

Leopards obviously do not live with humans, so it is a good time to find out about the specific areas that they inhabit. Leopards have, after all, the largest distribution of any wild cat.

Whether traveling through the National Parks of Africa, Asia, or parts of Europe, people will still be able to find these once far-reaching cats. Keep reading to find out where leopards live in the world and the type of habitats you can find them in.

You Can Find Leopards in Africa, Europe, and Asia

Leopard hunting a hare in the Masai Mara

These once far-reaching animals still call many parts of the world home. Depending on which type of leopard you are referring to, you can find leopards in Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Despite this seeming like an impressive range, current records suggest that leopards only occur in 25% of their historical global range. The main reason for this reduction in range is due to habitat loss and poaching, but we will look at this in further detail later on.

First, let’s focus on the main types (subspecies) of leopards and where they live.

African leopard (P. p. pardus) – Africa

The leopard that most people think of is the African leopard. This species is the most widespread subspecies and lives in Morocco and most of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Its large range is thanks to Africa offering many wild spaces with plenty of prey for the leopards to hunt.

Indian leopard (P. p. fusca) – India

This leopard is native to the Indian subcontinent, including Myanmar and Southern Tibet. Although its range is not as widespread as the African leopard, there is still an estimated total of between 12,000 – 14,000 of these cats found throughout India.

Javan leopard (P. p. melas) – Java

Do leopards live in the jungle? Well, if you head to Java, you could be lucky enough to see the Javan leopard despite being critically endangered. Java is an Indonesian island, and, therefore, the Javan leopard is very vulnerable to habitat loss and poaching.

As of 2008, it has been part of the IUCN Red List as a critically endangered animal. There are only an estimated 250 mature individuals currently surviving in the wild.

Arabian leopard (P. p. nimr) – Arabian Peninsula

This leopard is native to the Arabian peninsula and inhabits the desert/rocky landscapes where it feeds on the various animals that inhabit this area. This is the smallest leopard subspecies alive. Arabian leopards are extinct in the Sinai Peninsula.

Persian and Anatolian leopard (P. p. saxicolor; P. p. tulliana) – Eastern Europe and Asia

These two subspecies of leopards are different, but their habitats overlap in Asia Minor. The Persian leopard, also known as the Caucasian leopard, is the only leopard that still lives in Europe.

There are still populations in the Caucasus, European Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia.

The Anatolian leopard lives in a small region of Turkey and is locally extinct in the South-Western region. There are between 871 – 1,290 mature individuals estimated to be surviving in this range.

Amur leopard (P. p. orientalis) – Russian Far East and Northern China

This leopard was once found throughout North-Eastern Asia but is currently limited to Russia and Northern China. You won’t find these leopards in the Korean Peninsula anymore.

This leopard is critically endangered, with an estimated 90 wild leopards surviving in the wild.

Indochinese leopard (P. p. delacouri) – Southeast Asia

Leopards in Laos and Vietnam are under serious attack from habitat loss, and you’ll rarely find them outside protected areas. Poaching in Cambodia and China is also very common.

This special cat is critically endangered, with only an estimated 1,000 breeding adults. Their historical range has decreased by more than 90%, one of the most significant losses to any leopard range.

Sri Lanka leopard (P. p. kotiya) – Sri Lanka

This subspecies only lives in Sri Lanka. This leopard used to live throughout the island but now sticks to uninhabited areas in the South-East, Central, and North-Western regions of the country. There are an estimated 700 – 950 individuals as of 2015.

Where Do Leopards Sleep?

African leopard in a tree, Kruger National Park

There may be many different countries where you can find leopards, but in almost all of them, these cats will be sleeping in one place – up in a tree.

The stereotypical picture of a leopard hanging over a tree branch is popular for a reason — because it’s their favorite position. When they aren’t hunting, leopards are like most cats and prefer to be lounging about.

A leopard’s first choice for sleep is high up in a tree, where it can remain stealthy and await any further hunting opportunities.

Where Do Leopards Eat?

Similar to choosing a bed, leopards like to eat in trees. It does vary slightly between subspecies, but generally, they all prefer to eat higher up.

They choose a tree because it protects them from animals or even the risk of having their meal stolen by a larger predator.

Do leopards’ diets change based on where they live?

African leopard in running motion, with soft blurred background

There are 8 different subspecies of leopards surviving in the wild. These leopards have a very wide range, starting in Eastern Europe and covering Africa and Asia’s entire continents.

Despite these all forming part of the same species, where they live does affect the leopard’s prey and what they eat. However, all of these animals have one thing in common – they are all obligate carnivores.

What is an obligate carnivore?

A carnivore is an animal that eats meat. These are in contrast to herbivores — animals that eat plants. You get two types of carnivores, facultative carnivores (those that also consume non-animal food) and obligate carnivores (those that only consume animal flesh).

All leopards fall into the category of obligate carnivores, with their diet consisting solely of other animals.

Leopard prey

Leopard with freshly caught Thomson's gazelle

Despite all leopards primarily relying on hunting, the specific prey that is available to them will change according to where they live. So “what do leopards eat?” is more a question of what prey is available to them.

For example, African leopards often feed on the tasty Thomson’s gazelle, small buck, warthog, or even a small crocodile while living in the plains of Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Sri Lankan leopard, on the other hand, will feed on larger spotted deer when possible. However, it will also feed on wild boar and monkeys prevalent in the jungle.

Being one of the main predators wherever it is, leopards will choose the biggest meals it can find. However, when times are tough, these resilient creatures will not be afraid to make do with whatever is available.

Interesting Leopard Facts & FAQs

Their large range and variety of subspecies are not the only fun leopard facts. There is also quite a lot to learn about their size, weight, and other attributes.

How high can a leopard jump?

Leopard jumping from one branch to another on a tree

Watching a leopard in its natural habitat is a wonderful experience, but what about seeing one jump?

Leopards are great hunters because of their stealth and ability to jump up to 6 meters and leap up to half of that. No wonder they can survive in so many adverse conditions.

How tall is a leopard?

Leopard size and weight vary quite significantly based on different subspecies. Usually, the larger leopards live in areas where they are apex predators, but other factors such as available prey and range can affect this.

The average length for an adult leopard is between 90 – 160 cm, while the height (distance from the ground to the shoulder) ranges from 57 – 70 cm. Male leopards are larger than females.

How much does a leopard weigh?

Big male leopard in the Serengeti, Tanzania

Leopards’ weight varies based on their subspecies and leopard sizes. The average weight of a leopard ranges from 37 – 90 kg for males and 28 – 60 kg for females. The biggest and heaviest leopards live in Africa, with historical records saying some were as big as Barbary lions.

The Best Place to See a Leopard

Leopards, and other big cats, are some of the most majestic creatures on this planet. Seeing one in its natural habitat is a special experience that most people will never forget.

Luckily, leopards are the most widespread big cat, so there are still many places you can visit to see them. Whether traveling to Africa to see the famous African leopard or to visit the jungles of Java to see the critically endangered Javan leopard. There are so many breathtaking places to find these big cats.

Why not book a safari to view these magnificent animals up close and personal?

Just remember to be careful about walking under any trees the next time you decide to visit an area filled with these stealthy cats.

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