Amur Leopard

The Amur leopard is one of the rarest “big cats” on Earth. Pocock gave it its name in 1930 while researching the leopard specimens collected in a museum in London. By referring to ‘Amur’, he specifically meant the leopard skin obtained from Russia’s Amur region.

Amur Leopard Scientific Classification

Animalia
Chordata
Mammalia
Carnivora
Felidae
Panthera
P. p. orientalis

Table Of Content

Scientific Classification

Amur Leopard

Animalia
Chordata
Mammalia
Carnivora
Felidae
Panthera
P. p. orientalis

Until 1985, ‘Amur’ was a common name used to denote all leopard species in the Eastern Siberian region, as well as those in zoos worldwide. They are even called Far Eastern Leopard, Korean Leopard, and Siberian Leopard, after their places of origin.

Amur Leopard

Description

Height ‐ Male: 42–54 in (107–136 cm); Female: 29-43 in (73 – 110 cm)

Weight ‐ Male: 71–106 lb (32.2–48 kg); Female: 55–94 lb (25–42.5 kg)

Body and Coloration:  These small-sized leopards have thick, soft fur alongside widely spaced rosettes or black spots covering their head, tail, legs, and back.

Their coat color changes seasonally, light yellow in winter to a deep reddish-yellow during summer. Similarly, their hair length is about 1 inch in summer, increasing to 3 inches during the colder months.

Range and Distribution

It mainly inhabits the Russian Far East in northeastern Asia, besides occupying parts of Korea and China.

Amur Leopard Habitat
Amur Leopard Face

Habitat

It prefers cold, snowy regions, mainly thriving in Korean pine and conifer forests.

Lifespan

They live for 10 -15 years in the wild and 20 years in captivity.

What Do They Eat?

These leopards are true carnivores, feeding on Siberian roe deer, the sika deer, and the wild boar. Sometimes they’ll even eat hares, badgers, mice, and wildfowl.

Behavior

  • Of all the big cats, they are exceptionally good at climbing and stalking prey.
  • They are also strong swimmers, enjoying being in the water.
  • These agile leopards are excellent jumpers leaping to 19 feet horizontally and almost 10 feet vertically. They are even quick on their feet, reaching up to 37 miles an hour.
  • Solitary in nature, they hunt over large territories at night to avoid fighting over prey.
  • If threatened, they would try escaping and only show aggression if there is no way out. However, they generally do not attack humans.

Predators

Its only major predator is the Siberian tiger.

Adaptations

  • Their canine teeth in front are sharp, helping them to kill prey.
  • They have retractable claws for climbing trees and gaining traction on slippery areas.
  • The Amur leopard’s long legs make it easy to walk in the snow.
  • Its fur gets thicker and longer in winter, providing warmth. The fur even serves as a perfect camouflage against the snowy landscape.
  • The tiny hooks or denticles covering their tongues help scrape meat off their prey’s bones.
Baby Amur Leopard
Amur Leopard Cubs

Mating and Reproduction

The mating season begins in the latter half of winter. Several males sometimes fight over a prospective mate. After mating, the female builds a den, preferably using stones and overhanging rocks to give birth.

Life Cycle

Their gestation period lasts around 12 weeks, following which a litter of 2-3 cubs is born. Some males stay with their partners even after mating, often helping them rear their young.
Cubs stay with their mother until 18 to 24 months, after which they thrive on their own Most of them mature sexually by the time they are 3 and can reproduce up to 10–15 years of age.

Conservation Status

The IUCN lists the Amur leopard as “CR” or “Critically Endangered.” Several threats have left the species near extinction. These include:

  • Poaching for their skin and fur.
  • Loss of forests due to degradation caused by human-induced fires.
  • Inbreeding, which has led to a loss of genetic diversity.

Conservation efforts have been made to control their population, like reducing illegal logging practices in Russia and China and levying harsh penalties and jail time on poachers.

These leopards support keeping the balance of species in the areas where they are present, helping to maintain the health of the forests and the area’s environments. Hence, conserving them becomes a priority.

Amur Leopard Images
Amur Leopard Pictures

How many of them are there left?

There are around 100 Amur leopards in the wild, and 180 in captivity.

Interesting Facts

  • In many Korean folk paintings in the Joseon Dynasty, Amur leopards, featured prominently.
  • They even featured in The Last Leopard, a 2008-documentary of Animal Planet, highlighting their plight.

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