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Leopards Aren't as Tough as You Might Think

Although a powerful and clever hunter, leopards are not always at the top of the food chain. In Africa, lions, packs of hyenas and painted dogs can kill leopards; in Asia, a tiger can do the job. Leopards go to great lengths to avoid these predators, often hunting, eating, hiding and resting in trees to keep from being noticed. Although extremely agile and fast on the ground clocking speeds of 35 to 40 mph, if's not quick enough. Lions are nearly a tie with leopards, and hyenas and painted dogs are faster than the cats. So climbing a tree is a very good choice for a leopard.

The African leopard population is damaged at an estimated total of 700,000 and there continues to be a significant continuing decline in numbers of up to 59% over the past couple of decades according to reports by the AWF. Enough of a decline that leopards are now considered "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and "endangered" in northern Africa by the Endangered Species Act. As you might anticipate, the population challenges facing the leopard are human caused as the cats are hunted by man for their fur coats, to protect livestock, commercialized bushmeat or simply for sport. The conflict between man and leopard continues to grow as our human population continues to encroach on their natural habitat. Encroachment has fragmented the leopards habitat by 31 percent worldwide in the past 22 years.

Charitable organizations working to support leopards include the African Wildlife Foundation and Cape Leopard Trust.

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