The Amur Leopard

The struggle of a rare suspecies

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Today there are 70 known adult Amur leopards in the wild, up from just 30 in 2007.

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Amur leopards live in the temperate forests of Far Eastern Russia, experiencing harsh winters with extreme cold and deep snow, as well as hot summers.


Amur leopards hunt at night and need large territories to avoid competition for prey. They silently watch their prey and ambush them using a burst of energy reaching speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. Their tongue has tiny rasps or hooks, called denticles, which are used to scrape the meat off of the bones of their prey. The Amur leopard is a primary consumer, and therefore has no symbiotic relationships.


Females first breed at 3-4 years. After a gestation period of around 12 weeks, cubs are born in litters of 1-4 individuals. The cubs stay with their mother for up to two years before becoming fully independent. Typically, a female Amur leopard will successfully raise 6-8 cubs at most throughout her lifetime. In the wild, leopards live for 10-15 years, but may reach 20 years in captivity.
Mark Sharman: Baby Planet - Amur Leopards


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Amur leopards follow the type 1 survivorship curve. Amur leopards show a high rate of juvenile survival and most individuals live until sexual maturity and beyond. Most mammals fit into this survivorship curve. These leopards produce fewer young, but juveniles are well taken care of and have high survivorship.
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The carrying capacity of a species is the maximum population size of the species that the environment can sustain, given the food, habitat, water and other necessities available in the environment. No specific information could be found for the Amur leopard's carrying capacity as the population has been so small for so long, however the highest recorded population ever was 2400 cats in the 1950's.

Defense Mechanisms

These include:
  • An ability to climb up trees - leopards are known as the best climbers in the animal kingdom.
  • Camouflage - Their spotted fur acts to disguise them in their natural habitat. Camouflage also helps leopards hunt their prey unnoticed.
  • Sharp teeth and claws - can be fatal to anything considering attacking a leopard. Leopards are notoriously powerful creatures.
Besides the odd tiger or lion, man is the Amur leopards biggest predator.
Encounter between 2 amur leopards

Major Threats

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Human development of land needed for Amur leopard territory is also a major threat to the surviving population.
Intraspecific competition is competition between members of the same species. Amur leopards generally follow the same diet, and must compete with each other over food due to prey scarcity because of poaching. Small population sizes also lead to competition within the species for reproductive opportunities.

As forest fires and human development shrink available land, the Amur leopard and other species will be forced to have smaller and smaller territories. As land becomes more scarce, fights over territorial space between species will become more likely. This is an example of interspecific competition - competition between members of different species.

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Loss of genetic diversity in the small and isolated Amur leopard population may cause reduced numbers due to reduced reproduction and lifespan and increased vulnerability to diseases).

New camera trap images of leopards were obtained which shows a leopard with a very short tail, the first seen like this in the wild. It is possible this could be a sign of inbreeding.

Striving to maintain genetic diversity in the captive breeding programs for Amur leopards is very important so animals that may be used in the proposed reintroduction programs are as genetically fit as possible. This gives the population a greater chance of survival.

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Amur Leopard Survival Game

Help the dwindling Amur Leopard population by protecting them from both humans and nature.

Conservation Efforts

“Amur leopards are literally teetering on the brink of extinction. The establishment of Land of the Leopard National Park is such exciting news. In conjunction with other conservation efforts, this provides a huge opportunity for the Amur leopard’s future.”

- Head of Species Diane Walkington

A Safe Haven

Amur leopards received a safe haven in 2012 when the Russian government declared tbe Land of the Leopard National Park a new protected area. This marked a major effort to save the world’s rarest cat. Expanding nearly 650,000 acres, it includes all of the Amur leopard’s breeding areas and about 60 percent of the cat’s remaining habitat. WWF lobbied for the establishment of this park in the Russian Far East since 2001
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Monitoring Amur Leopards in the Russian Far East

Goal: Monitor Amur leopard and tiger populations in southwest Primorye

In my opinion, the most valuable conservation effort has been breeding Amur leopards in captivity. The leopards can breed in a controlled environment and then be slowly introduced back into the wild. However, if drastic measures aren't taken to reduce the poaching of Amur leopards and their prey, the rehabilitation efforts will have been for nothing.
Yorkshire Wildlife Park - Amur Leopard Cubs and Conservation

Let's work together to SAVE THE AMUR LEOPARD. Do your part.

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