Fast Fact Attack: Endangered Species No. 50 – The Javan Leopard

Javan tiger, caught on camera, resting in the rainforest

Photographer: Age Kridalaksana (The Center for International Forestry Research – CIFOR)

The Javan leopard inhabits one of the most densely populated and richly bio-diverse islands in Indonesia.  Given the amount of attention by visiting biologists and conservationists over time, it is surprising there is so little information available about this and other island species.

Most of scant data written has come from those observed in captivity or those captured in the wild and returned with radio collars, or caught on camera traps.  They are said to be extremely elusive, though someone has clearly been finding them.  If only to export to various zoos.

Driven back deep into the forests by man, having been deprived of more than ninety per cent of its original habitat  (and with that its prey base),  the Javan leopard has been forced to turn to domestic livestock for food supplies.  The irony of this situation seems to be lost on the local population as conflict between the tigers and humans escalates. And, to make matters worse, villagers are turning to poaching.  Plans are being made to address the conflict and to offer alternative economic opportunities to the villagers. Which can only be a good thing.

The Javan Leopard is a beautiful, small leopard endemic to Java.  Its coat is orange with black rosettes.  It has piercing steel-grey eyes. Leopards,in general, are larger and stockier than the cheetah but not as big as the jaguar.  One wildlife photographer suggested the Javan leopard he ‘shot’ was about five feet ten inches in length.

Expert climbers, when not draped over branches fast asleep, they can run up to thirty-five miles per hour, bound over twenty feet forward and leap almost ten feet upwards.

Leopards remain solitary except when mating.  The gestation period involved lasts roughly one hundred days, after which two to four cubs will be born.  Sadly, only half will survive.  As happens so often, the infant mortality rate is high.

Less than two hundred and fifty pure Javans are thought to remain in the wild.  However, this estimate may be on the low side.  The species is prone to melanism, and more may exist as ‘black panthers’.

Dense tropical rainforest, dry deciduous forest and scrubland.
Gunung Gede National Park on the Indonesian island of Java.
What they eat

Deer, various monkeys and small apes, and wild boar. Through diminishing habitat and depletion of their prey base, Javan leopards have been forced towards settlements and have been known to prey on domestic animals in their search for food.
Habitat loss, illegal logging and agricultural expansion, poaching, loss of own prey and human conflict.
Status: Critically Endangered
The Javan leopard (Panthera pardus melas) is listed on the  IUCN Red List of Threatened Species  as Critically Endangered.  It can also be found listed under  CITES Appendix I.  In Indonesia, the Javan leopard is classified as a protected species, and stringent hunting laws are enforced to prevent this leopard from going down the same road as the Javan tiger.  

There are an estimated two hundred and fifty Javan leopards left in the wild. In 1997 (latest available data), there were fourteen Javan leopards recorded in captivity within world zoos.  From 2007, the Taman Safari zoo in Indonesia kept seventeen Javan leopards, of which four were breeding pairs.  Javan leopards are also kept in the Indonesian zoos of Surabaya and Ragunan.  Captive breeding programmes do exist, but are not widespread. However, there have been zoo births, making the future look a little brighter for the species.

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”
Rachel Carson


14 thoughts on “Fast Fact Attack: Endangered Species No. 50 – The Javan Leopard

  1. Pingback: Leopard discovery in Java, Indonesia | Dear Kitty. Some blog

      • My pleasure! As usual a great post very educational ,makes me more determined than ever not to buy products that are destroying their habitat. I call companies up and it is very draining because it takes for ever to get an answer back from one company, they love to drag it out but I feel very important to talk one on one with and corner them right on the spot, to let them know how I feel, and I refused to buy there product until they get their act together and I will sign every petition !!!

        • Thank you for your kind words, Nancy. You clearly do an enormous amount to help. I admire you for doing something so practical as calling the culprits direct. Well done! Though, I expect it can be quite soul-destroying sometimes – greed is a nasty opponent. Like you, I am big on signing petitions. And, I always check the product ‘descriptions’ of everything I buy. It’s one of the few easy things we can all do. Keep up the wonderful work. ~ Amelia 🙂

  2. What a lovely pic…makes you want to tickle it lol…I have two cats…I love cats of all kinds. My black cat does the same thing…but he won’t be cuddled like my gray one lol. How do we deal with habitat loss? What can be done?

    • He is beautiful, isn’t he! It’s quite hard to remember just how wild he really is. LOL In answer to your question, Kev, habitat loss can first be addressed by stopping the logging and forest clearance for agriculture and plantations (palm oil plantations are one of the worst, IMO) Land needs to be allocated specifically and then slowly restored. Thanks so much for visiting and taking the time to comment. Hugs to your cats. ~ Amelia

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