- Breed description
- Historical distribution
- Life cycle and reproduction
- Social structure
- Main threats
- Shortage of prey
- Illegal trade and poaching
- Conflict with man
People usually think that leopards are representatives of the savannah of Africa, although a rare subspecies of leopards can be found in the Far East of our country, as well as in northern China. This subspecies was named the Amur leopard in the Far East. He is also known as the Amur leopard.
This predator was listed in the Red Book. It belongs to the subspecies, which is on the verge of extinction. The population of the Far Eastern leopard is in critical condition today.
At the same time, the moment that the Amur tiger - its famous “cousin” - has increased the number of its population gives hope for the preservation of this subspecies. It is believed that the Amur leopard, whose photos are presented in this article, can be saved by implementing various environmental protection projects.
This leopard has many distinctive features from the rest of the feline. In summer, the wool reaches 2.5 centimeters in length, and in the winter it is replaced by 7 centimeters. In cold weather the Amur leopard has a light coat color with a reddish-yellow tinge, in the summer more saturated and bright tones predominate.
The Amur leopard in the Far East (photos of the animal are presented in this article) has long legs that allow it to walk freely in the snow. The weight of males reaches 48 kg, although there are also larger representatives of the breed - 60 kg. Females weigh up to 43 kg.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the leopard was found in the south of Sikhote-Alin, as well as in the southwestern part of Lake Khanka, although in recent years it was not observed there. At present, the Amur leopard lives in mountainous areas of the southwestern part of the Primorsky Territory, where it gives a clear preference to the cedar-black fir and broad-leaved forests. It is less willing to inhabit deciduous forests, especially pyrogenic oak forests, whose areas are increasing due to annual fires.
This representative of the Cat family chooses areas with steep hillsides, rugged terrain, watersheds and rock outcrops. At present, its range has decreased to a critical size and covers only a limited forest area of 15 thousand km² (in Primorye, from Posyet Bay to the Razdolnaya River, as well as on the border with the DPRK and the PRC).
Today, the distribution of the subspecies has decreased to a small fraction of its historical initial range. Initially, the Far Eastern leopard lived throughout the northeastern part of Manchuria, in the provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin, including, moreover, on the Korean Peninsula.
Life cycle and reproduction
In the Amur leopard, puberty begins at the age of 3 years. In the wild, life expectancy is about 15 years, while in captivity - 20 years. The Amur leopard has a mating season in the spring. Litter includes 1-4 cubs. At three months of age, their weaning occurs, while the young become independent at 1.5 years, leaving their mother to lead a single life.
The Amur leopard (pictures with its image are presented in this article) prefers a single nocturnal lifestyle. But after mating, some males may remain with their females, as well as help in raising their young. It often happens that several males simultaneously pursue one female, and also struggle for the possibility of mating with her.
The basis of its diet consists of roe deer, raccoon dogs, hares, small boars, badgers, and spotted deer.
The Amur leopard in the Far East from 1970 to 1983 lost more than 80% of its territory. The main reasons were: fires, forest industry, as well as the transformation of land for agriculture. But all is not lost. At the present moment there are suitable forest tracts for animals. It is possible to protect the territory from the harmful influence of humans, in addition, to increase the population size.
Shortage of prey
It should be noted that in China there are vast areas that are suitable habitat, while the level of food supply is not enough to maintain the population at the right level. The volume of prey can increase due to the regulation of the use of forests by the population, as well as the adoption of measures to protect ungulates. To survive, the Far Eastern leopard needs to re-fill its original habitat.
Illegal trade and poaching
The Amur leopard is constantly subjected to illegal hunting because of its spotted and beautiful fur. An investigation team conducted an experiment under cover in 1999: they were able to recreate the skin of a male and female Far Eastern leopard, after which they sold it for $ 500 and $ 1, 000.
This experiment demonstrates that there are illegal markets for such products and they are located near animal habitats. Villages and agriculture surround the forests inhabited by these animals. This creates accessibility to forests, and poaching is a more serious problem here than in regions distant from people. This circumstance concerns both leopards and other animals that are subject to extermination for the sake of money and food.
Conflict with man
It should be noted that the Amur leopard (a photo of an animal is admired with beauty) is especially vulnerable, since deer are part of its diet. A person’s contribution to the overall decrease in the number of deer, due to the value of his horns, prevents the leopard from getting enough food.
Due to the decline in the deer population, leopards often go to reindeer herding in search of food. The owners of these lands often kill animals, protecting their investments.
The Amur leopard is also threatened with extinction due to its small population, which makes it vulnerable to a variety of disasters, including diseases, forest fires, changes in mortality and fertility rates, sex ratios, inbreeding depression. It should be noted that kinship ties were observed in nature, which means that it can lead to various genetic problems, including a decrease in the birth rate.
Such matings are found in certain populations of large cats, although in small populations they do not allow outbreeding. Studies have shown that in an adult female, the average number of calves decreased significantly.
Unfortunately, at the present time, the situation with the Amur leopard can be considered truly catastrophic - for example, over the past twenty years, its habitat area in our country has almost halved, while the number has declined several dozen times. Due to this, the Amur leopard is protected today.
The Red Book of the Russian Federation attributed the animal to the first category as the rarest, which is on the verge of extinction, with a very limited range, whose main population is within our country. At the same time, the leopard fell into the Annex of the First CITES Convention and the Red Book of the Union of Conservation of Nature.