Leopards Have Lost 75% Of Their Historical Habitat


Since 2015
AH enthusiast
Jun 17, 2009
Reaction score
Deals & offers
Hunting reports
Member of
Most countries
Leopards have lost 75% of their historical habitat
New research shows the big cats’ global range has shrunk by a shocking amount over the last 250 years


‘This cat needs your attention.’ Researchers hope their work will raise awareness about the plight of the leopard. Photograph: Joseph Lemeris Jr/ZSL

The area of the world roamed by leopards has declined by three quarters over the last two and a half centuries, according to the most comprehensive effort yet to map the big cat.

Researchers said they were shocked by the shrinking of the spotted hunter’s range, and that the decline had been far worse for several of the nine subspecies of leopards and in some parts of the world.

“We found the leopard had lost 75% of its historical habitat, we were blown away by that, it was much more than we feared,” said Andrew Jacobson, a conservationist at the Zoological Society of London and lead author of a new study on their range published in the journal PeerJ.

“Our goal has to be to raise consciousness about the plight of the leopard, it’s been flying under the conservation radar for a while. We hoped to raise its profile and say ‘this cat needs your attention’.”

The new work is the first known attempt to draw up a global, historical map of the leopard. Jacobson and researchers found that in 1750 it occupied a vast 35m sq km (13.5m sq mile) area throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia. But after centuries of habitat loss and hunting caused by humans, that area shrank to just 8.5m sq km.

Leopards in Asia have been particularly badly hit, with six regions losing over 95% of habitat where the species has been, in Jacobson’s view, “almost completely wiped out”.

There appeared to be a clear link between Asia’s economic development and the leopard’s decline there, he said. “South-east Asia and China have been developed for a long period of time and that’s seriously constricted habitat in that area for decades. We worry this will be the trend we will see in Africa in coming decades, as economies grow.”

Even in Africa, the paper found, losses varied greatly, with their range decreasing 99% in North Africa, up to 95% in West Africa but only up to 51% in Southern Africa.

Leopards are a famously reclusive but adaptable species, living nocturnally and hunting a wider variety of prey than other species. They also appear more capable than other big cats at adapting to environments transformed by humans, with leopards living in the outskirts of Mumbai and Johannesburg.

There are no reliable population estimates but it is thought there are over a 100,000 left in Africa and perhaps fewer than 10,000 in Asia.

Jacobson, who is also part of theNational Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative, said it was not too late for leopards to bounce back. “I think the leopard can come back. The leopard is an incredibly adaptable animal, we just need to ease off on the hunting pressure, the persecution. They’re cats, they breed pretty well.”

But greater conservation efforts were needed to stop them suffering the dramatic declines seen by some other species, he said. “When people think of endangered animals they think of tigers, elephants, rhino. Thankfully the leopard isn’t in that category yet, and if we are more proactive about them we can stop them being in there.”

The new study – Leopard (Panthera pardus) status, distribution, and the research efforts across its range – examined 6,000 records at 2,500 locations, from over 1,300 sources, including other scientific literature and experts’ data, to draw up a detailed reconstruction of leopards’ range today and in 1750.

Thanks for sharing. I would be interested to know how the population has rebounded in the last 50 years? If that is the right time frame. Seems like they have come back from where they were at one time.
Ease of on the hunting pressure? More cats I believe ate taken by landowners protecting their livestock than by hunters. I'm no expert of course but this just sounds like more anti hunting rhetoric. Wait till USFW sees this.
Thank you for sharing
Ease of on the hunting pressure? More cats I believe ate taken by landowners protecting their livestock than by hunters. I'm no expert of course but this just sounds like more anti hunting rhetoric. Wait till USFW sees this.

I think including North Africa is kind of a way to exploit the numbers as well. I mean that is like saying the elk population in Virginia is 99% of its former range. Or like how black bears were included in endangered species numbers.
Bring some to Australia, seems to be the idea behind a heap of other species......
The numbers would mostly likely increase if there was revenue to be made from selling hunts. Then they would not be treated as an inconvenience to the citizens of Africa.

Forum statistics

Latest member



Latest profile posts

looking for 300 h & h flanged ammo
Looking for shipping advice. I will be hunting in Limpopo in March, and was wanting to know a general idea of shipping costs to return my mounts to the US when completed. Air or sea? Only plains game hunting.
BLAAUWKRANTZ safaris wrote on gpiccs94's profile.
You are welcome to join our family at Blaauwkrantz in February. We have been hosting international hunters since 1978 and known to be the best kudu hunting in the world! we are based on our 100 000 acre ranch, an hours drive from the Port Elizabeth airport. Please email me on info@blaauwkrantz.com
CrippledEagle wrote on 7MAG's profile.
Good morning 7MAG. I have a NEW, never mounted, Leupold M8-4X Extended Eye Relief scope that I will sell you for $325 shipped to you. I was a Leupold rep for 12 years and this was always our preferred mounting for a lever gun, scout rifle style.
DLSJR wrote on Will Clark's profile.
You’ve got an interesting screen name. Will the Thrill provided lots of great times for me as a lifelong Giants fan. Even though I never met him, a number of buddies either duck hunted or shared a dugout with him. He’s a great guy according to those guys. Cool screen name and if that’s your real name, it’s a great one.