Panthera pardus orientalis
There are many reasons why the Amur Leopards are endangered:
diminished habitat due to human activities, logging, and development
high demand for crushed leopard bones used in some Chinese remedies
poaching for skin and other body parts, sold in illegal trade
prevalence of inbreeding which leads to high risk of genetic abnormalities, diseases, and shorter lifespan
The Amur Leopard, considered among the world’s rare leopard subspecies, is on the brink of total extinction. According to the most recent data, there are between 60 and 80 of these wild cats living mainly in the Primorye region of the Russian Far East with a few scattered throughout the Jilin Province of North East China.
Its population decrease is due to habitat destruction as land areas are affected by farming, logging, and human activities. Illegal poaching has also been rampant for more than four decades now due to high demand of its beautiful spotted fur in the black market.
Adding to the seriousness of their situation, the Amur Leopard has low levels of genetic variations and high frequency of inbreeding (mating among close relatives) cases. All of these often lead to serious health problems and lower their chances for survival.
Also known as the Far East Leopard, the Amur leopard has long, thick coat specifically designed to withstand the harsh winter life with hair color that varies according to its habitat. While the males are heavier in weight than females, they both have more prominently built legs and paws as compared to other leopard subspecies to help them move with ease and agility even through deep snow, at speeds of up to 37 miles per hour.
This carnivorous animal prefers solitude – capable of living on its own in an area as wide as 150 square kilometers – with an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years or up to 20 years in captivity.