General Information on the Amur Leopard
The Amur leopard lives in the forests in eastern regions of Russia, Korea and Northeast China. It has a pale creamy coloured coat and widely spaced rosettes with thick, black rings with darkened centers. They are known for their light blue-green eyes. Adult males weigh about 32-48 kg, adult females are smaller and 25-43 kg in weight. Their main prey consists of roe, sika deer, badgers and hares. In the wild, their life expectancy is 10-15 years, in captivity it is increased to 25 years.
Why are they endangered and how many are left?
Only 30-35 live in the wild, however there are 300 in zoos in Europe, Russia and North America, and one of the rarest felids in the world, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has categorized the species as critically endangered. This is because of poaching of the deer and more than allowed, Amur leopards are also occasionally poached or accidently caught in the snares; since 2002, skins/corpses of nine Amur leopards have been discovered in Russia and at least two killed in China. Deforestation also affects these distinctive leopards as it is their natural habitat, this deforestation happens by villagers creating fires to stimulate the growth of ferns (a popular ingredient of Russian and Chinese dishes). Inbreeding is a large problem due to the loss of genetic diversity of the small Amur population, this depression is from reduced reproduction, life span, and increased vulnerability to diseases, therefore a reduced population.
Conservation Acts done by A.L.T.A. (The Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance)
2. Forest fire-fighting
3. Compensation for livestock losses by the tigers/leopards
4. Comprehensive education and public awareness programme
5. Population monitoring (this is by snow-tracks and camera tracking)
6. Ecological and biomedical research
7. Support for protected areas and hunting leases
8. Lobbying for better conservation policies and regulations
9. Amur leopard conservation in ChinaIn March 2009, the Minister of Natural Resources spoke to Russia's Prime Minister that he will try to restore the Amur leopard population in the wild by introducing new leopards from zoos.
Article by R.H.N.