Amur leopard Close up, looking right whilst prowling
The Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is considered to be one of the most critically endangered big cats in the world, with just 35 remaining in the wild, all in the Russian Far East (3). It is one of ten living subspecies of leopard (according to the most recent genetic study) but it is especially distinctive due to a particularly pale coat compared to most other subspecies, and dark rosettes which are large and widely spaced with thick, unbroken rings (2). This beautiful leopard is well adapted to living in the harsh, cold climates of its range, with a thick coat that can grow as long as 7 cm in winter. Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata,Class Mammalia, Order Carnivora, Family Felidae, Genus Panthera. The range of the Amur leopard previously encompassed the Amur River basin and the mountains of northeastern China and the Korean peninsula. Today, it survives only in one isolated population in the Russian Far East, although there may be a few individuals the Jilin Province of northeast China. Leopards are predominately solitary and are active mainly during the night. Individuals occupy large, overlapping home ranges that vary in size depending on the abundance of prey. Leopards are skillful hunters, stalking their prey to within a striking distance of a few meters, and feeding opportunistically on a wide range of animals. Occurs in any area that provides reasonable cover in temperate forests. Classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List.
The Amur leopard has been systematically hunted out of most of its former range for its coat and for the bones that are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The tiny population that survives today is under extreme risk of extinction.