Their young are born after a 3-4 month
gestation period, usually 2-3 at a time, although up to and
including six have been known. The kittens will then stay with their
mother for up to two years before setting off on their own.
One major threat to the African leopard is man who not only hunts the leopard as a trophy item, but man's
encroachment into new areas has led to a loss of habitat compounded by climate change that has seen them disappear from desert and
semi-desert areas (see distribution map above) although some remain
in the Atlas mountains of Morocco.
It is estimated that leopards
have disappeared from 37.6% of their former habitats, although
population numbers are unknown. In 2008 the
International Union for Conservation of Nature classified the
African leopard as "Near Threatened" which means it could be
threatened with extinction in the near future. Although the killing of leopards is banned or regulated in many countries, there are cultural issues that lead to ongoing killings.
For example the Shembe, followers of the Zulu Nazareth Baptist
Church in South Africa with some ten million followers, have adopted
the practise of wearing spotted and therefore mainly leopard fur
during religious festivals, leading to the decimation of the
leopard population in parts of South Africa as can again be seen
from the above leopard distribution map.
The African leopard can now be found in Afghanistan; Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad,
Republic of Congo, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia