1 Tahrcountry Musings: Worldwide Leopards have lost nearly 75 percent of their historic range

Monday, May 09, 2016

Worldwide Leopards have lost nearly 75 percent of their historic range

According to a paper published in the scientific journalPeerJ. Leopard (Panthera pardus), has lost as much as 75 percent of its historic range. The study was conducted jointly by National Geographic Society's Big Cats Initiative, international conservation charities the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Panthera and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Cat Specialist Group.

Leopards historically occupied a range approximately 35 million square KM throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Today, it has dwindled to approximately 8.5 million square KM. Of the nine recognized subspecies, three (P. p. pardus, fusca, and saxicolor) account for 97% of the leopard’s extant range while another three (P. p. orientalis, nimr, and japonensis) have each lost as much as 98% of their historic range.  The study underlies the fact that leopards are increasingly threatened throughout its range. Habitat loss, prey decline, conflict with livestock owners, illegal trade in leopard skins and parts are factors contributing to leopard decline. The researchers say that while leopard research was increasing, research effort was primarily on the subspecies with the most remaining range whereas subspecies that are most in need of urgent attention were neglected. Small patch size, few remaining patches, and isolation further threaten those subspecies with the least amount of remaining range (P. p. orientalis, nimr, melas, kotiya, and japonensis).

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