Species: Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis)
Status: Critically Endangered (CR)
Interesting Fact: The Amur leopard is one of the most endangered big cats in the world, with only around 20 adults and 5-6 cubs counted in 2007.
A distinctive subspecies of leopard (Panthera pardus), the Amur leopard has a particularly pale coat and large, dark, widely spaced spots. This beautiful big cat is well adapted to living in the harsh, cold climate it inhabits, with a thick coat and longer legs than other leopards, helping it to walk through snow. The Amur leopard usually lives alone and hunts at night, feeding on a range of animals including hares and deer.
The Amur leopard once ranged through the Amur River Basin, the mountains of northeast China and the Korean Peninsula, but is now confined to the Russian Far East, with a few individuals in the Jilin Province of China. The main threats to the Amur leopard include hunting for its coat and for its bones, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine, as well as a reduction in its prey species. Wildfires and human developments are also a threat. Although the Amur leopard is legally protected, greater efforts are needed to reduce poaching and educate local people. A captive breeding programme is underway, and part of China’s Jilin Province has been set aside for the creation of a National Park to protect this species. Unfortunately, the future of this beautiful but highly endangered cat remains uncertain.
Find out more about conservation efforts for the Amur leopard at AMUR – Russian Amur Tiger and Leopard Conservation, WWF – Amur leopard and WCS – Amur leopard.
Visit ARKive’s Facebook page to see an infographic on the Amur leopard shared by one of our followers, Guillermo Munro.
Liz Shaw, ARKive Text Author