Amur Leopard Natural History

Range & habitat

This species is restricted to small areas of Russia, North Korea (possibly locally extinct) and China, where it is well adapted to the snowy conditions.  In the wild it is a shy cat which is most commonly found in pine forests.

Habits

Don’t let this cat’s size fool you.  This carnivore feeds on wild boar, deer (sika and roe), hares, badgers and even raccoon dogs.  Especially when it has a big kill, if it is not able to eat it all in one sitting or thinks it might get disturbed, this cat can drag even such larger food items in to trees and up rocky sides.

After birth (generally in the middle to the end of summer) cubs will be weaned at 3 months old but won’t leave their mother for 18 to 24 months, finally becoming sexually mature a year later at 3 months.

Size

Length; 1 to 1.4 m

Weight; 25 to 48 kg

Threats

This subspecies of the leopard (which as a whole is classified as vulnerable), is classified by the IUCN red list as critically endangered, with potentially only between 27 and 37 individuals left in the wild.

Their population is in such danger for a number of reasons, with most of these being related to human activity.

Even though they are protected they are still poached for their fur as well as being killed by humans during conflicts (such as the killing of livestock leading to farmer retaliation).  The same thing applies to much of their prey which has become increasingly scarce throughout their range, living little food for them to eat.  Finally, none of these issues are helped by degradation and fragmentation of their habitat due to human settlement, development and stripping of natural resources.

What this also means is that with such a small population of mature animals the gene pool has become increasingly shallow leading to hereditary health conditions.

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The Amur leopard at Sandwich Wildlife Park

We have 1 female Amur leopard at Sandwich Wildlife Park called Kaia, who joined us at the end of 2019 from Marwell Zoo.  She is part of the European Endangered species Program (EEP) run by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).  She likes to spend most of her time outdoors, thanks to that amazing coat which this species grows.

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