Leopards are widely distributed across Africa and Asia, but populations have become reduced and isolated, and they are now extirpated from large portions of their historic range.
Leopards are widely distributed across Africa and Asia, but populations have become reduced and isolated, and they are now extirpated from large portions of their historic range. Leopards are declining in parts of their geographic range due to habitat loss and fragmentation, and hunting for trade and pest control.
Leopard distribution in North Africa has been restricted by 97% of their former range with only remnant, isolated populations remaining. An adult male leopard was killed in the Elba region of southeastern Egypt in retaliation for livestock depredation. Leopards are thought to be extirpated from Morocco.
Leopard distribution in West Africa has been dramatically reduced. This reduction is likely due to habitat fragmentation, but also more rigorous survey efforts have confirmed presence and likely absence across the region.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo of Central Africa, leopard range was largely reduced in areas of increased human influence and areas relatively easy to access and therefore open to illegal hunting and bushmeat trade.
The distribution of leopards in East Africa has been reduced, in particular in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and central Tanzania. It is thought that leopards are absent from the southeastern boundary of Lake Victoria to Central Tanzania.
In southern Africa, the so-called stronghold of the leopard, there is no evidence to suggest that leopard populations have remained stable. In Zimbabwe, much leopard range has disappeared due to the resettlement of private farmland and subsequent loss of prey populations. Regional range losses are estimated at approximately 21% in southern Africa. It is suspected that suitable leopard range has been reduced by more than 30% worldwide in the last three generations of 22.3 years. Generation length is calculated as 7.42 years, based on a formula and data from wild leopard populations.
Leopard range has been significantly reduced in southeast and East Asia. The species is likely extirpated in the Musandam Peninsula of Oman and UAE. Leopards are probably extinct in Jordan, UAE and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, with the possibility of rare forays from the Negev.
• Image | © Michael Jansen, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-ND 2.0)
• Sources | (Balme, et al., 2013; du Toit, Walker, & Campbell, 2004; Durant, et al., 2014; Edmonds, Budd, al Midfa, & Gross, 2006; Hunt, 2011; Pacifici, et al., 2013; Qarqaz & Abu Baker, 2006; Spalton & Al Hikmani, 2006, 2014; Stein, et al., 2016)