Source: Dierenstuff.nl

Leopard, called Ekùn (also Amotekùn) in Yoruba, was placed by the foremost taxonomist, Linnaeus, within the genus Panthera, together with the Tiger, Lion and Jaguar which all appear to be bigger in size. The larger family is the felidae which is the biological family of cats. Subspecies are classified by variations on the nature of the fur. The African leopard subspecies, Panthera pardus pardus exhibits great variation in coat color, depending on location and habitat. Males are usually bigger, having a body length of 1.6 m to 2.3 m. Female body length range between 1.7 to 1.9 m. Weight in males are usually within the 31 to 65 kg mark while females, averagely weighing lesser, falls between 17 to 58kg. Leopards have short legs relative to their long body. Jaw muscles are powerful. The leopard’s scapula has specialized attachment sites for climbing muscles. The long whiskers in their eyebrows protect their eyes while moving through dense vegetation. Mating system in leopards is polyandrous. Two or three cubs may be produced after a gestation period of about 97 days, some of which may live for 12 years if left in the wild or 23 years if kept in controlled habitat

Leopards used to be widespread throughout Nigeria, but now very rare in non-protected areas like the Obudu Cattle Ranch, on the Jos plateau, in the Gwoza hills of Borno State, Olokameji in Ogun State and around Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State where it may be found today. This scarcity is probably due to uncontrolled hunting for its valuable skins which are highly prized for traditional ceremonies and for illegal international trade. Even at that, direct observations of leopards as other carnivores in the African rainforest are very rare. They are reported to occur in protected areas like the Yankari Game Park; Kainji Lake National Park; Sambisa Game Reserve; Kambari Game Reserve; Cross River National Park-Oban Hills sector and the Gashaka Gumti National Park.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer