Leopard picture – plus some info on appearance

Your search for a leopard picture is over. Here are some pictures by the very experienced and skilled professional wildlife photographer, John Devries and others. I am not sure where some of them were taken but I think they were all taken in Africa but the leopard range extends much more widely and into Asia. However, the pictures of the leopard and her cubs at water were taken in the Masai Mara in Africa. I have added some more pics at May 16th, 2022 as this page was first written in 2009.

Common Leopard - Panthera pardus - 10 May 2009 Rajiv Gandhi Nagarhole National Park, Kabini, Karnataka, India.
Common Leopard – Panthera pardus – 10 May 2009 Rajiv Gandhi Nagarhole National Park, Kabini, Karnataka, India. Photo: The Jungle Book.
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Amur leopard in habitat
Amur leopard in habitat. Photo: National Geographic.

The leopard is one of the four big cats. The others are the jaguar, the lion and the tiger. These cats can roar (Tiger Roar tells how it happens).

leopard picture of leopard a water with cubs drinking

Photograph above ©copyright John Devries of Ophrys Photography. If you click on the image, you’ll see a slightly larger version.

My first impression when looking at these photographs is how wonderfully effective the leopard coat is as a camouflage. And this applies against a variety of backgrounds. It makes the leopard hard to see when still, and I am sure that capturing a leopard picture of quality is a real challenge.

The leopard is similar in appearance to the jaguar. Both have a stocky, solid appearance. The jaguar is normally little larger, however. Their markings are also similar. The spots are called rosettes. This is the same term to describe the spots on the domestic Bengal cat as well. You can see some Bengal cat rosettes on this page. As is the case for tiger stripes individual leopards can be identified by their coat patterns. The leopard’s spots are very well known (see the bible entry above – Jeremiah). The leopard still occupies Ethiopia I am pleased to report.

leopard picture of leopard looking ahead at camera

Photograph above is ©copyright John Devries. Another very fine leopard picture. John says the ears are pointing backwards picking up a sound and showing the markings on the ear flaps. A lot of wildcats have ocelli or a false eye on the ear flap as a form of visual communication. The leopard does not.

The leopard is the largest of the spotted cats of Asia and Africa. Below is range of weights of this wild cat which, although it is one of the so-called big cats, is considerably smaller than a tiger or lion:

LocationWeight of male leopardSample
Cape Province – mountainous area30.9 kgs or 68 lbs27
Kruger National Park – woodland savanna60.6 kg or 133 lbs8
Zambia49 kg or 108 lbs9
Zimbabwe59.6 kg or 130 lbs13
Sri Lanka56.3 kg or 124 lbs11
Thailand56.7 kg or 125 lbs3

By comparison the Bengal tiger weighs in the order of 220 kg or about 485 lbs. The average weight of a male human in the USA is 189.8 pounds (src: pediatrics.about.com). That puts the human male at about 1.6 times the weight of the average leopard. We shouldn’t be too frightened of the leopard.

Female leopards are about 40% lighter than males. Head to tip of tail is about a maximum of 2.4 metres or about 7 feet 10 inches. This is about 2 feet more than the height of a man.

leopard picture of leopard walking and well camouflaged

Photograph above ©copyright John Devries.

Leopards have a wide distribution on the planet and therefore inhabit differing landscapes. Forest leopards are generally smaller than those living in open land.

Rare spotted black leopard
Rare spotted black leopard. Photo: Anurag Gawande.

The background colour of the leopard varies from a near golden colour or what the Sunquists call “ochreous” or ocherous which means of the color of ochre (or orange-tawny)…..to, at the other end of the scale a greyish yellow or “olivaceous” (of or like the olive).

tawny-ochre The color tawny-ochreolive-colour The color olive
leopard picture of leopard in a tree snarling

Photograph above ©copyright John Devries. Another very fine leopard picture showing how effective the coat is as camouflage and what agile and skilled climbers leopards are. The leopard is one a few wild cats that can descend a tree head first. [side note: my Norwegian Forest Cat mix could do that from 30 feet up!]

The background colour varies with the habitat (as does the size). Open plain leopards are more likely to be lighter and forest leopards darker.

The fur length and texture varies with distribution too as might be expected as the climatic conditions vary:

LocationDescription of Fur
Africashort, lying close to body, coarse (other than undersides)
Indiasoft and smooth, 25 mm long, limited undercoat.
North India, Nepalcoarser, thicker, thicker undercoat.
Amur region (East Russialong thick fur twice as long as in India on the belly and dense undercoat. Similar to that of the Snow leopard
leopard picture of leopard walking along a trail

Leopard Picture – Sources: Wild Cats Of The World by the Sunquists a fantastic book.

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