Eye of the Leopard

Eye of the Leopard

A young leopard is hunted by lions.


6 - 12



Big Cats Initiative

Leopards are one of the most geographically widespread big cats. However, many leopard populations are endangered. The leopard's range includes sub-Saharan and northeast Africa, Central Asia, India, and China. Leopards are highly adaptable, with a diverse diet. They are nocturnal predators with the ability to hunt and carry their prey into trees. Within the tree canopy, leopards' spotted coats provide camouflage and help protect them from predators and scavengers that want to steal their prey. Leopards use the tall grasses of the savannah to stalk their prey. Leopards hunt antelope, pigs, and deer. They are comfortable in the water where they hunt for crab and fish. Leopards are solitary except when mothers are rearing their cubs. As with most big cats, human-leopard conflicts are negatively impacting leopards throughout their range. As human populations increase and encroach on leopard habitat, humans and leopards are forced to compete for food and space. Leopards are also threatened by illegal poaching and retaliatory killings when they prey upon livestock. Conservation efforts, including habitat preservation and education, could help protect endangered and threatened leopard populations.

Fast Fact

  • Leopards are the only big cats that regularly climb and hunt in trees.

Fast Fact

  • Leopards can carry a carcass greater than their own body weight up a tree.

Fast Fact

  • Leopards are successful in a range of habitats, including woodlands, grasslands, rainforests, and even deserts.

Fast Fact

  • Leopard offspring spend up to two years living with their mothers as they learn to hunt and survive.

Fast Fact

  • Conservation efforts have resulted in legislation that works to protect leopards throughout most of their natural range.
Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Angela M. Cowan, Education Specialist and Curriculum Designer
Julie Brown, National Geographic Society
Elizabeth Wolzak, National Geographic Society
Expert Reviewer
Dr. Luke Dollar, Conservation Scientist
National Geographic Program
Big Cats Initiative
Alison Michel
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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