Feb 14

Here in the UK, February brings with it the possibility of Spring, the first snowdrops and of course Valentine’s Day. Call me unsentimental, but was ever a more commercial festival invented?

This year, I’m refusing to conform, avoiding the pink hearts and over-priced roses. Instead I am going to tell the world what species I love the most as part of ARKive’s Love Species Campaign.

So, which species is my absolute favourite? It’s a tough choice. Emperor penguins? Nope, Morgan Freeman got there first. Blue whales? Intimidatingly big. Pandas? Yawn, bo-ring.

Have a look at the following photos and see if you can work out my favourite animal…

Paw print photo

This species is most commonly found in the African savannah, but also lives in southern Asia.

Can you guess the species?

It is an excellent hunter and is camouflaged amongst the long grass of its savannah habitat.

Can you guess the species?

This furry species has a beautiful spotty pattern on its coat.

Have you guessed yet? It is of course the leopard!

Why I love leopards

People say the lion is the king of beasts, but the leopard is much more regal. It’s elegant, stealthy and the most secretive of all large carnivores, which makes it a real privilege to see one in the wild.

Leopard photo

Faux fur leopard print is in again for 2011. Each leopard’s fur pattern is unique. East African leopards have circular spots, but in southern African leopards the spots are squarer.

Photo of female African leopard grooming cub

The adults are striking, the cubs are cute and they’re very mysterious. What’s not to love?

So there you have it. The leopard: best of all the animals! Check out ARKive’s leopard pictures and see for yourself.

Which species do you love? Tweet us @ARKive and join in our Love Species Campaign!

Ruth Hendry, ARKive Media Researcher