Largest of all leopards, Persian Leopard is also amongst the rarest. Also known as Iranian Leopard, it is found in scattered numbers in a number of countries extending from South Asia to Middle East, including some Central Asian states. A particularly strong animal, the Persian Leopard, Panthera Pardus Saxicolor, grows up to a height of near three feet and weighs as much as one hundred and fifty pounds, in case of healthy adult males.
Not much is documented about any unique physical attributes of this big cat. It is similar in appearance to other members of its species, with a tawny coat marked with rosettes. It has seldom been photographed in the wild and rarely studied in detail. As a result not much is known about its behavior, hunting and reproductive profile, though the leopard is known to prey upon a variety of animals including deer, goat, sheep, camel, dog, mule, wild boar and birds.
The elusive Persian Leopard resides in rugged mountainous terrains in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Georgia and Russia. It is a secretive animal like all leopards and is seldom seen in the wild. Residing in a combination of hilly and forested areas, it is a solitary feline that faces a variety of threats in its natural habitat and is struggling to survive in nature.
The splendid cat has had to withstand a lot over the years owing to the war torn conditions in its geographical range. This along with poaching for fur, prize hunting, poisoning, wild fires and habitat and prey loss has meant that there are fewer than thirteen hundred Persian Leopards in the wild today. Highest numbers are in Iran with around six to eight hundred animals reportedly existing. There are some conservation projects underway, with plans to reintroduce the big cat in Russia being one of them. At the moment though, the magnificent Persian Leopard is still classified as Endangered.