African & Asian Leopards
"China" (left) is an Asian leopard. His spots are very easy to see. "Chui" (below) is an African leopard, and his color is the result of a recessive gene. Although Chui is black, he also has spots in his coat. Sometimes called a 'black panther', leopards with black coats are those that inherit a melanistic gene that accounts for the different coat coloration.
Born in captivity, these leopards came to Black Pine as an alternative to being sold as a product of the exotic animal trade. Hundreds of big cats like these are sold to become roadside attractions or pets. In the majority of such cases, the animals wind up in sanctuaries once they grow up as their owners realize the dangers they pose, as well as lack of 'domestic' qualities most seek.
It's a bit confusing today what, if anything, truly separates the African from the Asian leopard. Asian leopards originated in southeast Asia, including Indochina and the island of Java. But today those populations as well as any in northern Africa are gone. The most dense populations are now found in the Congo, with additional numbers living throughout Cameroon, Angola, Tanzania, and many other south African countries. Due to poaching for their beautiful coats, as well as habitat loss in some regions, leopards are protected and many live in preserves.
Leopards are the only African cats that live in both rainforests and deserts. They have the widest distribution of all wild cats. Those from different regions have developed varying coat colors, including the black leopards found in the most tropical habitats.
As adults Chui and China weigh from 120 to 160 pounds and they consume from two to four pounds of meat on average every day.
InfoBox - Leopard
Status: Endangered due to poaching and habitat loss.
Diet in wild: Small to medium-sized animals.
Life span in wild: 12 years.
Weight: 55 to 100 pounds.
Native habitat: South of Sahara desert in Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and China.