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The leopard (Panthera pardus) is an Old World mammal of the Felidae family and the smallest of the four 'big cats' of the genus Panthera, along with the tiger, lion, and jaguar.

Leopards that are melanistic, either all-black or very dark in coloration, are known colloquially as Black Panthers.

Once distributed across southern Eurasia and Africa, from Korea to South Africa and Spain, it has disappeared from much of its former range and now chiefly occurs in subsaharan Africa.

There are fragmented populations in the Indian subcontinent, Indochina, Malaysia, and western China.

Despite the loss of range and continued population declines, the cat remains a least concern species; its numbers are greater than that of the other Panthera species, all of which face more acute conservation concerns.

The species' success owes in part to its opportunistic hunting behaviour and its adaptability to a variety of habitats.

The leopard consumes virtually any animal it can catch and ranges from rainforest to desert.

Its ecological role resembles that of the similarly-sized cougar in the Americas.

Physically, the spotted cat most closely resembles the jaguar, although it is of lighter build.

Note:   The above text is excerpted from the Wikipedia article "Leopard", which has been released under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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November 27, 2015

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