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Amur Leopard

Panthera pardus orientalis

  • Amur Leopard
  • Amur Leopard
  • Amur Leopard
  • Amur Leopard

About the Amur Leopard

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Geographic Range:

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Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family:  Felidae
Genus: Panthera
Species: pardus
Subspecies: orientalis

The Amur Leopard is arguably the most endangered species on Earth. There are fewer than 50 individuals in the wild and approximately 300 in captivity. They have a specialized fur coat that allows them to survive in the widely variable climate of Northwest Korea, Russia and China. Fur can grow from two centimeters in the summer months to seven centimeters in winter. They have spots called rosettes, and their fur comes in lighter in winter, too. Males and females only come together for mating. Amur leopards are solitary.

Amur Leopard Facts

Appearance:
The Amur leopard has a light-colored fur coat in the winter (to blend in with the snow) and a more red-yellow coat in the summer. Their fur pattern has widely spaced rosettes with thick borders, distinguishing the Amur leopard from other leopard subspecies. Their long legs and large paws assist them in walking in deep snow. Hairs on their summer pelt are 2.5 centimeters long, and these are replaced by hairs that are 7 centimeters in the winter for extra protection. They have light, blue-green eyes.

Size:
Adult males generally weigh between 70 to 106 pounds, but exceptionally large males can weigh up to 165 pounds. Males can measure up to 10 feet in length, including their tail. Females typically weigh between 55 and 95 pounds

Diet:
Amur leopards prey upon roe and sika deers, raccoon dogs, small wild boars, hares and badgers. They’re opportunistic eaters, meaning they’ll feast on a wide range of prey.

Reproduction:
Several males will sometimes fight over their chosen female mate. Amur leopards are sexually mature at three years of age. Their breeding season is in January and February, gestation lasts between 90 and 105 days, and cubs are born in spring and early summer. Litter sizes range from one to six cubs. Cubs open their eyes at 10 days, and they’re weaned until they’re three months old. It's sometimes reported that males may stay with females after mating, helping to rear young. Cubs leave their mothers at 1.5 to 2 years of age.

Behavior:
Amur leopards are nocturnal and solitary predators, marking their territory with urine. They stalk prey, eat alone, and often hide their foods in trees for a later meal. Amur leopards are strong swimmers and climbers, and they can descend trees headfirst. They can run at a speed of 37 miles per hour for short periods and leap 20 feet horizontally and 10 feet vertically. Their main vocalization is a distinctive rasping call, very different from the growl of other predatory animals.

Habitat/Range:
Amur leopards can adapt to almost any habitat that provides them with sufficient food and cover. They occupy large, overlapping home ranges varying in size, depending on the abundance of prey. These leopards prefer areas which vary in temperature and precipitation, including temperate broadleaf and mixed forest habitats. The current Amur leopard population is thought to exist in far eastern Russia and northern China, although actual population numbers are hard to ascertain.

Median Life Expectancy:
17.9 years

Threats in the Wild:
Leopards are increasingly hunted for their coat and bones, which are used as ingredients in traditional Chinese medicine. Populations of leopard prey have been severely depleted, causing leopards to hunt domestic livestock and come into conflict with farmers. Due to their extremely small population, the genetic variation of the wild population of Amur leopards is also very small, creating a genetic bottleneck. This increases the leopard’s susceptibility to disease.

Fun Facts:

  • Amur leopards are known as the Far East, Manchurian and Korean leopard.
  • The tapetum lucidum, a mirrorlike layer in the back of the eye, reflects light back through the eye to help produce a brighter image in low light. This is an adaptation for their nocturnal lifestyle.

  • Amur leopards can see six times better than humans in low light.

  • Cats have the most highly developed binocular vision of all carnivores; this 3-D vision allows them to gauge how close their prey is.

  • Leopard or Jaguar?
    Leopards and jaguars both have spots (rosettes). Jaguars have a spot inside of the outer border of each rosette; leopards typically don't.