|Sri Lankan Leopard|
The Sri Lankan Leopard is a leopard subspecies native to Sri Lanka. Classified as Endangered by IUCN, the population is believed to be declining due to numerous threats including poaching for trade and human-leopard conflicts. No sub-population is larger than 250 individuals.
The leopard is colloquially known as Kotiya (කොටියා) in Sinhala and Chiruththai (சிறுத்தை) in Tamil. The Sri Lankan subspecies was first described in 1956 by the Sri Lankan zoologist Deraniyagala.
The Sri Lankan leopard has a tawny or rusty yellow coat with dark spots and close-set rosettes, which are smaller than in Indian leopards.
Leopards have been observed in dry evergreen monsoon forest, arid scrub jungle, low and upper highland forest, rainforest, and wet zone intermediate forests.
Sri Lankan leopards are not any more social than other leopard subspecies. They are solitary hunters, with the exception of females with young. Both sexes live in overlapping territories with the ranges of males overlapping the smaller ranges of several females, as well as overlapping the ranges of neighboring males. They prefer hunting at night, but are also active during dawn and dusk, and daytime hours. They rarely haul their kills into trees, which is likely due to the lack of competition and the relative abundance of prey. Since leopards are the apex predators they don't need to protect their prey.
The Sri Lankan leopard hunts like other leopards, silently stalking its prey until it is within striking distance where it unleashes a burst of speed to quickly pursue and pounce on its victim. The prey is usually dispatched with a single bite to the throat.
The Sri Lankan leopard is the country's top predator. Like most cats, it is pragmatic in its choice of diet which can include small mammals, birds, reptiles as well as larger animals. Axis or spotted deer make up the majority of its diet in the dry zone. The animal also preys on sambar, barking deer, wild boar and monkeys. The cat is known to tackle almost fully grown buffalos.