Amur leopardScientific Name Panthera pardus orientalis                    

Conservation Status Critically Endangered

Appearance

To deal with the cold climate in which they live the Amur Leopard has a thick coat of pale, cream coloured fur. It varies with the seasons from a light yellow to golden or reddish-yellow. Their belly is covered with white fur. Coat length varies from 25mm in summer up to 70mm in winter. This is covered with a pattern of black rosettes which are unbroken and have dark coloured centres.

Amur leopards have long legs which makes it easier for them to move through the snow. At the shoulder they stand 45-75cm (1.5-2.5ft tall). The larger male weighs 82 to 198lb (37-89.8kg) while females weigh 62 to 132lb (28 to 59.8kg).

Lifespan                                                                                  

An average Amur leopard lives for 10-15 years in the wild and is able to reach up to 20 years old in captivity.

Diet

Amur leopards are carnivorous. Their main prey items are hoofed animals such as sika, roe and musk deer. They will also feed upon hares, wild boar, wapiti, moose, badger, mice and foal. In some instances they have also been known to prey upon young Eurasian black bears.

They stalk their prey and get within a couple of metres (6.5ft) before taking them down. Once they catch the prey they will hide it away and continue hunting. They may catch a number of prey items before they begin eating. Their capability of leaping 3m (10ft) up into a tree while carrying prey which may be three times their weight assists them with this.

Habitat

The small population of Amur leopards is restricted to a small portion of far-east Russia and an adjacent area of China. Some sightings are also occasionally made in Korea. The largest population (consisting of 50-60 animals) is currently found in the Land of the Leopard National Park which is in Russia.

Amur leopardA wide range of habitats are occupied by the amur leopard including grasslands, mountains and lowland forests.

Reproduction

The breeding season occurs from January to February. A female is in estrus for a 12-18 day period on average, in some rare cases this may last up to 25 days. While normally solitary in some instances the male has been known to stick around and help raise the young.

90 to 105 days after a successful mating a litter of up to 6 cubs (but averaging 2-3) will be born.

Young are born with their eyes closed and are entirely dependent on their mother. They weigh in at between 500 and 700g (1.1-1.5lb). She hides them in a tree hollow or rock cleft when she is away hunting. The mother does not keep them at the same nest site for long to keep them away from other predators.

They grow quickly with the eyes opening on their 7th-10th day with their first steps taken around two weeks old. By two months old they get their first taste of meat and they no longer need milk after 3 months.

By the time they are two years old the cubs will begin to move away from their mother.

Behavior

Amur leopards are able to swim. When running they can reach 59.6km/h (37mph).

Their main vocalization is a rasping call.

Their only predator is humans who poach them for traditional medicines and their coat. They are persecuted for eating livestock and are threatened by wild fires and loss of prey.

This species is crepuscular meaning they are active at dawn and dusk. In between they rest.

Quick facts

Their name comes from a river near to their habitat. Amur leopards are also referred to as the Far Eastern leopard, Manchurian leopard, Korean leopard or Siberian leopard.

With just 70 left in the wild the Amur leopard is believed to be the world’s rarest big cat.

Photo Credits:

Top
By Art G. from Willow Grove, PA, USA (Amur Leopard) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bottom
By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK (Amur Leopard 4) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons