Mating

Mating
Mating

Promiscuity: males and/or females mate with more than one partner, no long-term relationship.

The leopard exhibits Overlap promiscuity - solitary, home ranges - 60% of mammals This is characterized by females being solitary with a large range with unpredicatble daily movements and males have ranges overlapping the ranges of several males.

The reproductive season is probably year-round, but a peak during the birth season of the impala, a main prey species, has been found. A female is in estrus for an average of 7 days with a cycle of approximately 46 days and a Gestation period of 96 days. First year mortality rate of young has been estimated at 41% to at least 50% annually. Leopards average 15 months (Martin and de Meulenaer, 1988, which include some shorter periods as a result of litters not surviving) to over 2 years between giving birth. The average age of last reproduction is 8.5 years.

Chinese Leopard Cub
Chinese Leopard Cub

Laman and Cheyl (1997) offer an observation of a leopard's mating behavior in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Copulations were seen thirteen times during one and a half hours of observation. All copulations were recorded and they all began with the female walking back and forth in front of the resting male, brushing against him and waving her tail in this face. The male often bit her on the nape during these interactions. Matings were accompanied by loud growling by both the male and female. Mounting lasted an average of 3.0s with the average interval between copulations being 6.5 minutes. The female initiation, posture and vocalization all match previous descriptions based on these animals. Captive data suggests around 100 copulations per day (Ktichner, 1991) and the witnessed copulations could have been a part of a longer courtship. The reasons for the large number of copulations are not clear in the leopard since they are solitary and females seem less likely to have opportunities to discriminate between males based on copulatory vigor, the reason that has been suggested for the high rates of copulation in jaguars and lions. More research is needed before this question can be answered for the solitary leopard.

Young

A litter will consist of 1-4 cubs that are born smoky gray since the rosettes are not yet clearly delineated. The mother will stop her nomadic wandering until the cubs can join here. They are hidden for about 8 weeks, eating meet at 6 or 7 weeks of age and sucking them for three months or more.

Leopards are independent at 13-18 months (Bailey 1993). Sibling may remain together for a few months before separating to lead solitary lives. Dispersal may be delayed in prey-abundant areas, especially if other leopards occupy neighboring habitat.

The dispersal system in leopards for their young appears to be flexible, and young animals do not always leave their natal areas when they become independent. This is in contrast, however, to some young males who have been observed leaving their natal area as young as 15 to 16 months of age.