The Amur leopard or Far Eastern leopard is a leopard subspecies native to the Primorye region of southeastern Russia and the Jilin Province of northeast China.
What is the amur leopard?
It is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. In 2007, only 19–26 wild Amur leopards were estimated to survive. As of 2015, fewer than 60 individuals are estimated to survive in Russia and China.
Hermann Schlegel first described an Amur leopard in 1857 on the basis of a skin from Korea. The Amur leopard is the only Panthera pardus subspecies adapted to a cold snowy climate. Fossils of leopards from the Pleistocene period have been excavated in Japan, although identification of the species is uncertain.
Amur leopards are threatened by poaching, encroaching civilisation, new roads, poaching of prey, forest fires, inbreeding, possible coexisting with disease carriers and transmitters, and exploitation of forests. Due to the small number of reproducing Amur leopards in the wild, the gene pool is so reduced that the population is at risk from inbreeding depression.
Tigers can eliminate leopards if densities of large and medium-sized prey species are low. Competition between these predators supposedly decreases in summer, when small prey species are more available. In winter, conditions are less favorable for tigers and the extent of trophic niche overlap with that of Amur leopards probably reaches its peak.
The Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (ALTA) is an initiative of Russian and western conservation organisations to conserve the Amur leopard and Amur tiger, and secure a future for both species in the Russian Far East and Northeast China. ALTA operates across Northeast Asia under the guiding principle that only co-operative, co-ordinated conservation actions from all interested parties can save these endangered species from extinction.
Current population and distribution
Today, the Amur leopard inhabits about 5,000 km2 . The last remaining viable wild population, estimated at 57 individuals, is found in a small area in the Russian Province of Primorsky Krai, between Vladivostok and the Chinese border. In adjacent China, 7-12 scattered individuals are estimated to remain. In South Korea, the last record of an Amur leopard dates back to 1969, when a leopard was captured on the slopes of Odo Mountain, in South Gyeongsang Province.
Image: By Keven Law – CC BY-SA 2.0
Text: Wikipedia contributors. “Amur leopard.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 9 Oct. 2017. Web. 13 Oct. 2017.