Amur Leopard Facts

Updated: Feb 12


Photo by Flying Dutchman on Unsplash

Scientific Name For The Amur Leopard


The Amur leopards are also known as Far East leopards, Russian leopards, Manchurian leopards or Korean leopards. The scientific name for the Amur leopard is Panthera pardus orientalis.


Is The Amur Leopard Extinct


In the 1970’s, the Amur leopard population declined to as low as 30 individuals. It is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN and CITES. The leopard did not go extinct due to conservation efforts. Currently, it is estimated that there are 100 leopards left in the wild.


With only 30 Amur leopards left a few decades ago and because they are considered critically endangered, they are the only large cat being considered as part of a reintroduction program using zoo Amur leopard individuals. Local and international experts prepared a reintroduction plan in an effort to prevent the Amur leopard from going extinct.


The Amur leopard likely went extinct in the wild in South Korea sometime in the late 1960’s.


But, unconfirmed reports suggest that there may be a few individuals in and around a demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.



Amur Leopard Information


Females leopards breed around the age of 3 or 4 years. The gestation period is about 12 weeks. Cubs are born in litters of generally 1 to 4 individuals. Leopard cubs are weaned around the age of 3 months. Some males stay with the females even after mating. There is some evidence that the males that stay help with rearing their young. Baby cubs stay with their mother for up to 2 years, at which point they will become fully independent. However, some siblings may maintain contact during their early independent years. There is some evidence that Amur leopards breed seasonally, with a peak in births in late spring and early summer.


Amur leopards are nocturnal. They sleep during the day in sheltered areas or cool caves.


Amur leopards are highly territorial. They live alone when they are adults and only come together to mate.


Amur leopard’s territories range from 19 to 116 square miles.



Amur Leopard

What Does A Leopard Look Like


The Amur leopard is a spotted black and tan color. The color pattern and markings act as a camouflage. The leopard’s coat is paler in color then other leopard subspecies. The Amur leopard’s rosettes (rose shaped markings) are larger than those on other leopards and they are widely spaced. The Amur leopard has thick fur in order to keep warm in the cold climate that it lives in. Its fur can grow up to almost 3 inches long in the winter.


What does the Amur leopard's tongue look like? The Amur leopard’s tongue has denticles on it. Denticles are little hooks or rasps. You can think of its tongue as a little scraper that is used to scrape meat off of bones.


Males weigh between 70 and 105 pounds. But, they can weigh up to 165 pounds. Females are smaller than the males and weigh between 52 pounds and 94 pounds.


Most of the time, Amur leopards are silent. However, they sometimes make a hoarse, rasping cough to announce their presence or proclaim a territorial boundary. Some leopards purr while feeding.


The Amur leopards have long busy tails. Their tails are between 32 and 35 inches long. In the winter they wrap themselves with their tales to help keep warm.


Where Do Leopards Live


Amur leopards live in the temperate forests of the Russian Far East. In the Russian Far East, the climate includes harsh, long, and extremely cold winters with deep snow. However, the Russian Far East also has a summer season and the Amur leopards must endure hot weather as well.


The Amur leopards live in the northern-most region out of all the leopard subspecies. Historically, the leopard’s habitat extended throughout northeastern China, the southern part of Primorsky Krai in Russia and the Korean Peninsula. Habitat loss and hunting resulted in the significant shrinking of leopard habitat.


What Do Leopards Eat


Photo by Marvin Nauendorff on Unsplash

The Amur leopard is a strict carnivore, unlike some Carnivora species, which are omnivorous and eat a mixed diet of vegetables, seeds, fruit, and meat. The Amur leopard cannot survive on a mixed diet due to how its body metabolizes food. Thus, the Amur leopard must eat other animals in order to survive.


Amur leopards hunt a variety of species such as roe deer, sika deer, hares, wild pigs, and badgers. It has been reported that they will eat young black bears. Additionally, when hungry, Amur leopards will seek out small prey such as rodents or squirrels to keep them satisfied until they can find larger prey. Tigers will not seek small prey the way leopards do.


Because Amur leopards are nocturnal, they typically hunt at night.


They need large areas of territory to hunt in order to avoid competition for their prey. They watch their prey silently from a hiding place before ambushing them with a burst of speed that can reach up to 35 miles per hour.


If they cannot finish eating their prey, the Amur leopards often carry and hide what is left. Leopards have been seen carrying their unfinished kill up trees to ensure that the remainder is not taken by other predators.


Amur leopards are known as the most accomplished stalkers and climbers out of all the big cats. Their immense strength allows them to attack prey that is up to 10 times their own body weight.



What Eats A Leopard


The Amur leopard is a carnivore and sits at the top of the food chain. Therefore, nothing eats an Amur leopard (besides humans, illegally). The Amur leopard does not have any natural predators because it is at the top of the food chain.


Because the leopard is a top predator, they are ecologically important to maintaining a healthy balance of species within their habitat. Not only does a top predator influence the types and numbers of other species, they also influence the entire ecosystem which in turn supplies humans and non-humans with food, fresh water and other resources needed for survival.


Why Are Amur Leopards Endangered


Photo by Marvin Nauendorff on Unsplash

The Amur leopards are critically endangered. There are a number of reasons why the Amur leopards are endangered.


Hunting and poaching is one reason why the Amur leopards are endangered. Humans poach Amur leopards for their beautiful fur. Poaching of not only leopards but also their prey is a big problem. Leopard forest habitat is easily accessible and is more densely human populated than other areas in the Russian Far East. Further, many Russians support and partake in hunting for sport and for food. There are 2 main cities in Russia that are only 2 or 3 hours away by car from Amur leopard forested regions. Thus, the leopard’s hunting range is also one of the most popular hunting areas for humans.


Another reason the Amur leopards are endangered is forest fires. Forest fires are a threat to the leopards because after the fire burns, the leopards forest habitat is devastated. After a fire burns through a forest, grasslands grow in its place. Leopards avoid grassland habitat thus fires shrink the habitable regions for them.


Disease is another reason why the Amur leopards are endangered. Diseases threaten the already critically endangered Amur leopard population. One such disease that leopards contract and eventually can kill them is called Canine Distemper Virus (CDV). It is still unknown exactly how the disease spreads, how the leopards contract it, and what the origins of the disease are.


Finally, inbreeding is another reason why the Amur leopards are endangered. Only a few decades ago, there were only 35 individual leopards left. Thus, those that were remaining were often related. The Amur leopard is the only cat in the big cat family that has international approval to be considered for reintroduction through captive breeding programs in part to help combat inbreeding.



Amur Leopard Conservation


In 2012, the Russian government dedicated the Land of the Leopard National Park as protected lands in an effort to help save the leopards. The park is 650,000 acres and includes leopard breeding grounds and an estimated 60% of the remaining leopard habitat. The Land of the Leopard National Park is home to an estimated 10 endangered Amur tigers as well as the Amur leopards.


Conservationists work to monitor leopard populations, especially as they disperse from within the protected park boundaries and cross over to neighboring areas.


Conservation of Amur leopards and their habitat also benefits other endangered and threatened species such as the Amur tiger.


What Can You Do


Photo by luke flynt on Unsplash

Planet Protectors can unite together to help save the endangered Amur leopards. One of the best ways to help is to educate yourself on the plight of endangered species. Since you already read this article, you are already on your way! Tell other people you know about the Amur leopards so they can start to help, too. Conservation must be a global effort. The more who know about Amur leopards, the better. Planet Protectors must let the world know that we care about what happens to the Amur leopards and we want to to see this magnificent species carry on into the future for others to enjoy.


Support environmental organizations who are working to save the Amur leopards. World Wildlife Federation and Wildcats Conservation Alliance are just a few non-profit conservation organizations who are helping the Amur leopards.


Symbolically adopt an Amur leopard through the World Wildlife Federation. With your adoption, you will get a furry plush stuffed animal, a photo of the species, an adoption certificate, a fact sheet, and a gift bag.


Through the World Animal Foundation, you can symbolically adopt a leopard species. With your adoption through the World Animal Foundation you will get a glossy photo of the leopard, an adoption certificate, a species fact sheet, and information on how you can help animals and the environment.


There are many different animals to choose from and these make great gifts for kids and adults. You will feel great about your purchase because you are supporting our planet and making it a better place all while getting someone an awesome gift!


Leopard Picture Book


If you want to learn more about Amur leopards and support our environment, then check out The Case Of The Disappearing Amur Leopard by Kirsten Usman. You and your children will learn about the Amur leopards the plight of many other endangered species. PLUS you will get an official Planet Protector Member Log. A portion of all profits is donated to environmental organizations who are working to save the Amur leopards.




10 Facts About Leopards


1. Amur leopards are one of eight subspecies of leopards.

2. Amur leopards live only in the Russian Far East and North East China.

3. There are 100 Amur leopards left in the wild and are the world’s rarest big cat.

4. The Amur leopard lives in a cool climate and has thick fur to help keep it warm.

5. Males weigh between 70 and 105 pounds. But, they can weigh up to 165 pounds.

6. In the wild, Amur leopards live for 10 to 15 years. In captivity, leopards have lived up to 20 years.

7. Amur leopards can run up to 35 miles per hour. Typically, they use their speed to chase prey or run from a threat.

8. The Amur leopard is a strict carnivore.

9. It is reported that Leopards can leap up to 19 feet horizontally and 10 feet vertically.

10. The Amur leopards are the only leopard subspecies adapted to survive in both the hot summer climate and the extreme, cold, snowy climate.

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