Persian Leopard
Persian Leopard


Scientific Name: Panthera pardus saxicolor
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae

General Information

Persian leopards are the largest and of all the leopards. Their total body length (including tail) can be up to 190cm and their weight up to 70kg. The body is muscular and flexible. The normal life span of leopards is between 8 to 12 years in the wild. It climbs trees or cliffs effortlessly, its leaps and spurts of speed are impressive, and it is a good swimmer. These traits make Persian Leopard ecologically flexible and increase its adaptability.
Female leopards usually only have one or two cubs, though they can have up to six in a litter. The female raises her young by herself, and once weaned she will lead them to food but otherwise does not spend much time with them.


Leopards’ diet varies depending on the habitat of their territory, usually small to medium-sized mammals such as wild goat, wild sheep, wild boar, Red deer, Roe deer and occasionally gazelles. They will sometimes attack livestock, particularly wherever wild prey has been depleted. However they will take prey as small as reptiles and birds. They will also take other carnivores including dogs, and foxes.


Leopards inhabit a range of different habitats. They live mainly in remote, mountainous habitats which can range from dry and arid areas to forested regions and even extend up into snowy mountain ranges.

Distribution in the world

It is native to eastern Turkey and Iraq, the Caucasus mountains of Azerbaijan and Armenia, Iran, southern Turkmenistan, and parts of western Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Distribution in Iran

Leopards are mainly found in the Alborz and the Zagros mountain ranges. These ranges cover a vast area starting from the borders with Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia, extending to the Caspian litoral region and on to Turkmenistan and western parts of Afghanistan in the Alborz range. Along the Zagros range, leopard habitats extend to the south of Iran, close to the Persian Gulf.
Virtually all country, except the vast deserts of Desht-e-Kevir and Desht-e-Lut in central and eastern parts leopards have been sighted. Quite common in protected areas (e.g., Tandooreh, Sarigol, Bafgh, Golestan, Kolahghazy, Touran, Kavir, Khojir, Khabr and Bamu national parks; Kiamaki and Naybandan wildlife refuges; Jahan Nama, Central Alborz, Varjin, Arasbaran, Dena and Bahram?gur protected areas) and some unprotected lands (Chapur-Ghoymeh, Safee Abad-Dozain or Minoo Dasht, Ramsar, Khaeez and Darestan-Rudbar).


Threats: The most urgent threat is ever-increasing fragmentation of suitable habitat to patchy network of distant and often too small sub-populations of Persian leopards. The leopards are threatened by poaching, depletion of their prey base due to poaching, human disturbance such as presence of military and training of troops in border areas, habitat loss due to deforestation, fire, agricultural expansion, overgrazing, and infrastructure development.
In Iran the serious threats include habitat disturbance, illegal hunting, prey poaching and over-grazing of domestic livestock in the leopard habitats. The leopards’ chances for survival outside protected areas appear very slim. Intensive dry conditions in wide areas of leopard habitat in recent years have affected the leopard’s main prey species such as wild goat and wild sheep.
Conservation Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classified Persian leopard as Endangered due to prey reduction from poaching, infrastructure development, disturbance and habitat loss.
Conservation Measures: In the past ten years there have been some scattered efforts around Iran by several Iranian NGOs. Most of these efforts have been focused on estimation of leopard’s population and awareness raising. Yet, conservation of this endangered species need much more effort as well as more resources if there is to be hope to keep this magnificent species from extinction.


Human Interaction

Leopards are terrified of humans and prefer to run away instead of facing man. Their attack might probably occur when injured or when sensing threat from proximity.

Critical species of Iran

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