Amur Leopard


Basic Statistics:

This leopard is known as Panthera pardus orientalis or also known as the Manchurian Leopard. These leopards come from Korea, Northeast China, and the far east part of Russia. It is one of the rarest felines in the world and only 30 to 35 of them still remain in the wild today. In the wild, these leopards live for 10–15 years and they may reach 25 years in captivity. Amur Leopards was classified as Critically Endangered on the Red List of 2004. There is no other mammal whose survival is under more serious threat.


amur_leopard.jpg
They are known to have light, blue-green eyes.
Amur-leopard-17131.jpg
Amur leopard shows the strongest divergence in coat pattern.

Kingdom:

Metazoe

Phylum:

Chordata

Class:

Mammalia

Order:

Carnivora

Family:

Felidae

Genus:

Panthera

Species:

Panthera pardus



Ecology:


Amur Leopards mainly eat Sika Deer, Hares, Roe, and Badgers. It is a top level predator, which means nothing rarely eats it. Sometimes Amur Leopards must share territory with tigers but it very seldom in the case of Russia. Yet, even with them sharing territory it has not been shown that the leopard population has been affected. So in this case, it is save to say that the relationship that these two meat eating cats have is an amensalism relationship. Amur Leopards are carnivores which means their diet mainly consist of meat. They crave the taste of meat and bones. Leopards hunt alone after dark or in the twilight. They hunt by either two ways: by stalking on its prey or from an ambush. Females on the other hand may hunt with their cubs. When the Amur leopard gets within 5 to 10 meters of the prey it impetuously rushes forward. It can go without food for a rather long period.

ALTA Amur Leopard Conservation from ALTA movies on Vimeo.

These specific leopards live in the temperate forest of Russian Far East. There, they experience harsh winters with extreme cold and deep snow. This is the only region where Amur Leopards share the same habitat with brown bears, reindeer, and salmon. This predator's habitat is a mixed coniferous forest. It prefers broken terrain, steep slopes, rocks and watersheds.




Physiology:

Amur Leopards are much like the snow leopard. It too is a very beautiful subspecies. It has a very slender body with the length of about 3.5 to 4 feet long and it's tail reaching around 2.5 feet. They must adapt to the cool climate by having fur up to 7.5 cm long in the winter. Where as in the summer the coat is only 2.5 cm long. Also, Amur leopards have longer legs to help them maneuver around in the snow. In the winter the color of the Amur Leopard change. It may vary from a light yellow to a rusty red with golden shades. Yet, in the summer the colors of the leopard is brighter. Along side the whole body large size rosettes with very thick borders, which often times have no spaces in between. It actually creates a pattern of the spots. It;s eyesight is extremely sharp. These specific cats can sight their prey at a distance of as much as 1.5 km. As like their eyesight these cats can hear and smell as well. Male leopards can get up to 106 pounds and females can weigh up to about 95 pounds. Leopards give a distinctive rasping call, rather than a growl, as their main vocalization.

Mating season usually starts at the second half of the winter. The female only brings to the world up to 3 cubs at a time. The mothers arranges a den in low accessible places such as caves, clefts, and under tree roots. These Amur Leopards reproduce, like humans in a way. Below is a quick glance of how they bring to the world their beautiful cubs.







Conservation:


In the wild, with there being less than 35 Leopards left, Amur Leopards are critically endangered. Most of the reason for this happening to the Amur leopard is due to the doings of humans activities. The top threats to their survival are:



Forest fires
Forest fires will soon completely kill the Amur Leopard population
Forest fires will soon completely kill the Amur Leopard population

  • These are a direct threat to this species because as they reduce the animals' natural forest habitat, it replaces it with grasslands that Amur leopards try to avoid.

  • Due to a frequent fire history, much of the forest land has been turned into grasslands. Most fires are set on purpose for the use of stimulating growth of ferns that are popular in Russian and Chinese dishes.

  • Ground fires are common. Though they do not do severe damage to the actual leopard is does severely damage the existing large trees. It prevents saplings from growing and they increase the death rate of maturing trees by drying out the soil and causing bark damage; which allows pest and diseases to come in and attack.

Inbreeding

  • Loss of genetic diversity in the small and isolated Amur leopard population may cause inbreeding depression.

Development

  • 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.

  • Phoenix Fund 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.

Poaching

  • Between February 2002 and April 2003 six Amur leopard skins were took, and in January 2004 the remains of two Amur leopards shot by poachers were found, and a young female leopard was killed by a poacher in April 2007.

  • A population of only 30 leopards cannot handle losses like these for long.






Citations:

  1. ALTA Amur Leopard Conservation. May 04, 2010. <http://www.amur-leopard.org/>.

  2. Phoenix Fund. May 06, 2010. <http://www.phoenix.vl.ru/zoom/ableopard.htm>.

  3. Amur Leopards. 2007. May 10, 2010 <http://www.amurleopards.net/>.

  4. Bright Hub. 2010. May 11, 2010 <http://www.brighthub.com/environment/science-environmental/articles/44371.aspx>.

  5. Save the Amur Leopards. May 15, 2010 <http://saveamurlepoards.wetpaint.com/page/Facts>.