- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Family: Felidae
- Genus: Panthera
- Species: Panthera Pardus
- Subspecies: P. P. Orientalis
In the Russian Far East and North-Eastern China, a rare and beautiful big cat has inhabited the snow-white forests for centuries, it is known as the Amur Leopard. Out of the 8 leopard subspecies that live across Africa and Asia, the Amur leopard is rather extraordinary.
This particular leopard has striking patterned fur and a distinctively large and furry tail which it wraps around its body to keep warm whilst resting. Renowned for its impressive strength, speed and stealth, the Amur Leopard has an astonishing ability to leap more than 19 feet horizontally and up to 10 feet vertically. Such abilities are extremely useful for the animal as like other cat species, the Amur Leopard is a solo hunter, mainly searching for its prey throughout the night.
Recent statistics have shown that there are only around 70 adult Amur Leopards remaining in the wild and as a result the animal is now listed as critically endangered. Sadly, human action over time has had a disastrous impact on the animal. Due to the animal’s unique beauty, the illegal fur trade is one of the worst threats this species faces. With a constant demand for extravagant fur, the Amur Leopard is targeted and killed ruthlessly. The fur of an Amur Leopard can sell for as much as $1,000 illegally.
As well as their fur, the animal is also hunted for its bones. Traditional Asian medicinal practices continue to negatively affect animals on the continent. Unfortunately, the Amur Leopard is also killed for its bones, which are known as a prized ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine. Environmental destruction in the area where the Amur Leopard inhabits is causing increased distress for the animal. Deforestation continues to destroy the Amur Leopard’s food sources and safety. In particular, in China, ongoing economic growth is seeing much of the animals habitat being thoughtlessly destroyed, to make way for expanding industries.
Since awareness of the declining Amur Leopard continues, conservation teams have acted and established goals for the future wellbeing of the animal. Such conservation efforts involve protecting the animal against future poaching as well as acting against deforestation in the area. Fortunately, the efforts of conservation teams so far have seen Amur Leopard’s number increase over recent years, in fact doubling since the last decade. If such effort continues, the now endangered Amur Leopard may have a brighter future ahead.