Welcome to our post highlighting facts, images and videos about the critically endangered Amur Leopard.
The Critically Endangered Amur Leopard
The general perception most people have of leopards is that they are predominantly indigenous to the African savannas, but there is another subspecies which has adapted to living in temperate forests in mountainous regions – the Amur leopard (also known as the Far Eastern Leopard). It is a nocturnal creature only found in a small area between the Russian Far East and northern China, a range that’s smaller than 2,500 sq. km.
Source : World Wildlife Fund
Amur Leopard Characteristics
It is quite similar to other leopards in physical characteristics and behavior. It is able to survive in such cold harsh climates because it has a very thick fur which can grow up to 7.5 cm long during winter. Its coat, however, is quite unique because of its widely spaced rosettes which have thick, black borders, making it easier to distinguish it from other leopards.
Leopards are known to have legendary speeds and the Amur leopard is no exception. With a top speed of almost 60 kilometers per hour, it can easily overtake most long-haul tracks and cars moving at a moderate speed. It is said to have a leap of more than 19 ft horizontally and up to 10 ft vertically.
Amur Leopard Habitat
Today, wild Amur leopards are restricted to a fragmentary range in the Primorye area of Russia which is to the north of North Korea and the nearby region of Jilin in China. This is the reason they are also known as the Far East leopard, Manchurian or the Korean Leopards. They were once distributed throughout the northeastern China as well as the Korean Peninsula.
In the seventies, the Amur leopard lost almost 80% of its former range in Russia. They prefer river basins located in mountainous regions and during the winters, they inhabit the southern-facing slopes. Not much is known regarding the status of the animals in North Korea.
With as few as 50 adults remaining in the wild, the Amur leopard is considered to the rarest and most endangered “big cat” on the planet. Almost all of them live in the Primorye region of Russia, although it is thought that about 10 scattered individuals live in adjacent China.
Amur Leopard Threats
It is threatened by its own genetics as well as the harmful activities of humans, who poach these beautiful cats and disturb or destroy their habitats. So few of their numbers remain that inbreeding could easily result in the animals’ extinction even without destructive human interference. The poor survival rate of young Amur leopards could be due to several generations of inbreeding.
Humans are contributing strongly to the critical endangered status of these leopards too. The leopards occasionally attack deer kept in deer parks, prompting the owners of these establishment to shoot them. The cats are also killed for their beautiful hides.
Amur Leopard Conservation
To save them from disappearing completely from the face of the earth, the World Wide Fund and other similar organizations have been collaborating with the Russian authorities and with other local programs so as to preserve the last of this intriguing leopard subspecies.
Reintroduction is another possibility, supported by a captive population relatively larger than the current wild population. There are also various efforts underway that aim to boost the numbers of important prey species.