Found throughout most of Africa and Asia, the leopard inhabits a variety of regions, such as tropical forests, brush and scrublands, rocky hillsides and even the high, cold slopes of the Himalayas.
Powerful and agile, the leopard is an efficient hunter. It stalks its prey, creeps to within a few metres, then leaps or dashes at the victim, which is dispatched by a bite in the back of the neck or smothered by a throat bite. The most common prey is hoofed animals, but it will also eat dogs, monkeys and even rodents, rabbits and birds. Leopards in eastern Africa frequently bring their kill into a tree to protect it from scavengers. The well-known "black panther", once thought to be a different species, is actually just a dark leopard.
Males are larger than females. The weight range for males is 37 to 90 kg (82 to 198 lb.) and for females it is 28 to 60 kg (62 to 132 lb.).
This species is threatened by over-hunting for the fur trade. Its stealth and secretive ways have made it a prize for the trophy-hunter. Although hunting restrictions recognize the need to protect the animal, demand and high prices have encouraged poaching and trade in illegal skins, and human settlements have destroyed much of its habitat. Fifty-eight nations, including Canada, are so concerned for the continued existence of the leopard and other cats that they have made agreements to control the import and export of leopard skins.