oa South African Journal of Wildlife Research - 24-month delayed open access - A note on the population structure of leopards () in South Africa : short communication - : short communication

Volume 44, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 2410-7220
  • E-ISSN: 2410-8200



The leopard () occurs throughout Africa and Asia, although their range in Africa has declined by 37% in the last century (Ray 2005). The main factors contributing to the decline in leopard distribution seem to be a combination of habitat destruction, human persecution, and prey depletion (Henschel 2011). These activities have increased habitat fragmentation and can affect leopard behaviour through home range shifts and limited dispersal (Ngoprasert 2007).

Limited dispersal, and hindered gene flow, can decrease genetic variation and increase genetic differentiation in fragmented subpopulations due to inbreeding, genetic drift and selection (Haag 2010). Lowered genetic diversity may in turn cause reduced survival and reproduction success because of increased accumulation of deleterious mutations and increased probabilities in allele loss (Whitlock 2000; Reed & Frankham 2003; Frankham 2004).

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