Amur Leopards, or Panthera pardus orientalis, are a subspecies of leopard that lives in the temperate forests of the Russian far east. Amur Leopards are extremely agile animals. They can run at almost 37 miles per hour, jump almost 20 feet high, and leap about 10 feet vertically. Amur Leopards are solitary hunters that will hide their food from other predators. Some males stay and help raise young. Amur leopards weigh about one pound at birth. They’re eyes stay closed for a week after birth and they don’t begin to crawl for about 15 days. Some Amur Leopard cubs have stayed with their mother for almost two years. Amur Leopards can grow up to 54 inches long and 31 inches across the shoulders.
Why Are They Endangered?
Amur Leopards are endangered mostly because of habitat loss and poaching. This leads to a lack of genetic variation which can also badly affect an animal’s population. In the late 1900s, 80% of the Amur Leopard’s original habitat was destroyed because of logging, forest fires, and destruction of forests for farms. Not only did this affect the Amur Leopard, it also affects its prey. Because of this, and poaching, there is not enough prey to sustain Amur Leopards and other big cats like tigers. When these leopards don’t have enough prey in their home environments, they will start hunting nearer to deer farms and are killed by the farmers. Poaching is another big problem affecting the Amur Leopard. Amur leopards are often hunted for their spotted fur. The shrinking amount of livable habitat is also making it easier for the Amur Leopard and it’s prey to be poached. Another problem facing the Amur Leopard, that is caused by habitat loss and poaching, is how few Amur Leopards are left. Because there are so few leopards left, they are extremely susceptible to diseases. A single bad disease or environmental catastrophe, like a particularly bad forest fire, could wipe out the entire population of Amur Leopards. Illnesses could affect these leopards particularly badly because of how little genetic variation there is. Because of the small population, the leopards are subject to inbreeding. Inbreeding exposes cubs to health problems and diseases. All of these are reasons why there are only around 84 Amur Leopards left.
The Amur leopard is a very important animal to the ecosystem it lives in and the people who live near it. To help the Amur leopard, you must also help it’s prey, like roe deer, sika deer, and hares. This also helps other predator’s in the Amur Leopard’s habitat, such as Amur tigers. Amur Leopards also depend on the forests they live in to survive; this is why habitat loss is affecting them so devastatingly. It is impossible to protect the Amur Leopard without also protecting all of its prey, fellow predators, and habitat. Protecting the Amur leopard can help make sure that this area is safe for years to come. Making sure that people use sustainable ways to hunt and cut down trees can not only make people be able to successfully and sustainably live for decades to come instead of quickly running out of materials, it can also give Amur leopards and all the other animals who live near it a place to live and thrive.
What Can You Do?
It is illegal to commercially hunt and sell Amur Leopards, and organizations like the World Wildlife Fund and TRAFFIC, which monitor wildlife trade, are working to stop this from happening illegally. You can help them by donating, and not buying leopard skin or other animal products. The Amur Leopard & Tiger Alliance (WildCats Conservation Alliance) is another organization that is trying to help Amur Leopards and other wild cats, and species who live near them. In 2012, a major step in conserving Amur Leopards happened: the creation of Land of the Leopard National Park, a protected area that includes the Amur Leopard’s breeding grounds, many of its prey, and several Amur Tigers. This was extremely helpful to the Amur Leopard. Hopefully, we can help save the rarest big cat.
"Amur Leopard." World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwildlife.org/species/amur-leopard. Accessed 13 May 2020.
Bove, Jennifer. "Amur Leopard." ThoughtCo, 12 July 2019, www.thoughtco.com/profile-of-the-endangered-amur-leopard-1182000. Accessed 13 May 2020.
"Amur Leopard." Animal Planet, www.animalplanet.com/wild-animal/endangered-species/amur-leopard/. Accessed 13 May 2020.
*all pictures and videos used with permission, and/or taken from the sites above.