Amur leopard

Ashley griffin 4th 3-4-15

Scientific name- panthera pardus Orientalis

The Amur leopard has some very distinguishing features. The hairs of its summer pelt are 2.5 cm long but in winter they are replaced by 7 cm long ones.

Apart from its long winter coat, which is a light colour in the winter, and more reddish-yellow in the summer, the Amur leopard is easily told apart from other leopard subspecies by its widely spaced rosettes with thick borders. It also has longer legs, probably an adaptation for walking through snow.

Adult males weight around 32-48 kg, and exceptionally large males weigh up to 75 kg. Females typically weigh 25-43 kg.

Location

  1. The Amur leopard once ranged across northern China, the Korean Peninsula and southern areas of the Russian Far East, but is now found only in a small part of southwest Primorskii Krai in Russia. Because it is adapted to the snowy winters there, it has a thicker, paler coat than leopards found in Africa or India.

Status

Critically endangered

Current estimated population

  1. Today, the Amur leopard inhabits about 5,000 km². The last remaining viable wild population, estimated at 57 individuals, is found in a small area in the Russian Province of Primorsky Krai, between Vladivostok and the Chinese border. In adjacent China, 7-12 scattered individuals are estimated to remain.

What they eat , how they obtain it

  1. Amur leopards, in particular, feed on a variety of prey including roe deer, red deer, musk deer, sika deer, wild boar, hares, badgers, etc. captive animals may live 20 years or more; wild animals are believed to survive for up to 12 years.

  2. The Amur leopard normally hunts at night, using the silent stalk and ambush technique also utilised by the tiger. During the attack phase the leopard may reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, but this is sustainable only for a very short time.


Why are they endangered ?

1. Hunting – Russian hunters kill many more deer than is officially allowed and Amur leopards are sometimes shot or killed with snares as well. Since 2002 skins or corpses of nine Amur leopards killed by poachers were found in Russia and at least two leopards were killed in China.
2. Loss of forest habitat due to frequent fires – Local villagers start fires for various reasons, but mainly to stimulate the growth of ferns that are a very popular ingredient in Russian and Chinese dishes.

3. Negative impacts of inbreeding – Loss of genetic diversity in the small and isolated Amur leopard population may cause inbreeding depression (reduced numbers due to reduced reproduction and lifespan and increased vulnerability to diseases.

4. Development projects – Southwest Primorye is located close to the Russian borders with China and North Korea, making it an attractive area for infrastructure projects such as new railways, gas and oil pipelines and ports. In 2005 and 2006 the Zoological Society of London and other ALTA partners led a successful international campaign against a plan to build an oil pipeline terminal on the coast of the Sea of Japan in the leopard’s range.
5. Lack of political commitment to conservation – Russia has abolishment of the State Committee for Nature Conservation, revoking the law enforcement rights of Inspection Tiger (an anti-poaching brigade for protection of tigers and leopards), and a reduction of the number of field inspector for protection of forests and animals by approximately 80%.

Organization working to help

ATLA

Why do they matter?

Amur leopards are top predators which means they play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy balance of species within their habitat. This in turn influences the condition of the forest and overall ecosystem – which supplies both nature and people with food, freshwater and many other resources.

What can we do to help protect them?

There are several laws protecting the Amur Leopard as well as other endangered species such as CITES and ESA, enforced in the United States