Spatial organization of leopards Panthera pardus in Taï National Park, Ivory Coast: is rainforest habitat a ‘tropical haven’?


  • David Jenny

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Zoology, University of Berne, Baltzerstr. 3, 3012 Berne, Switzerland and Institute of Zoology, University of Basel, Rheinsprung 9, 4051 Basel, Switzerland.
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Address for correspondence: Dr. D. Jenny, Rechengasse 2, 5620 Bremgarten, Switzerland.


Between June 1992 and July 1994, two female leopards and one male were radio-tracked. Regular locations of the leopards, the use of a phototrap, and spoor data, provided the first detailed ecological data about this elusive felid in tropical rainforest habitat. The home range of the male was 86 km2, those of the two females were 29 km2 and 22 km2, respectively. One female's home range was fully included within that of the male. Home ranges of neighbouring residents were not exclusive. Population density is estimated at one leopard per 9-14 km2. Intraspecific interactions were rare and predominantly involved mating. The large size of the home ranges and a relatively high population density imply large overlap between adjacent resident leopards' ranges. Differences in the leopard's land tenure system between the rainforest and the savanna are discussed. Doubt is cast on the validity of the often-quoted estimate of one leopard per 1 km2 in tropical rainforest habitat.