Amur leopards are CRITICALLY ENDANGERED, which is right next-door to being extinct in the wild. In 2007, only 14-20 adults and 5-6 cubs were counted in habitat, which is not very many. They live in an area of about 1,200 square miles along the border between China and North Korea. Some of them used to live in Russia, but there are none there now. Other names for the Amur leopard are Panthera pardus orientalis, Far Eastern leopard, Korean leopard, and Manchurian leopard.
There are more Amur leopards in captivity than there are in the wild. As of December 2011, there were 176 of them in zoos around the world. Recently, we got our very own Amur leopard right here at the Kansas City Zoo. Her name is Natalia, and she is 10 years old. Mom wants to go see her, but not until the weather is cooler.
|The Kansas City Zoo's Natalia|
Anyway, there is a group called ALTA (Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance) that is trying to save the Amur leopard. They are doing this by helping fight poachers, and by educating school children about the leopards. Also, they are trying to get more of the animals that leopards like to eat back into the leopards' range. And eventually, they may try to put some Amur leopards into the wild again. Other problems that make life hard for wild leopards include loss of habitat, climate change, and inbreeding due to the small population.
Male Amur leopards mostly live by themselves until it's time to mate. The territory that a leopard claims for him- or herself can be anywhere from 19 to 120 square miles. As long as there is plenty of food within this territory, the leopard will stay in it. The favorite things Amur leopards like to eat are roe deer, sika deer, Manchurian wapiti, musk deer, moose and wild pig. If none of those are available, they might prey on hares, badgers, fowl, and mice.
|Photo by Mark Hughes|
|Mother and cub, Minnesota Zoo|
Photo by Makeenosman
When Amur leopards are about 2 or 3 years old, they start making baby leopards. They can keep doing this until they are 10-15 years old. After a pair mates, it takes about 90-105 days before the cubs are born. Usually there are 2 or 3 cubs, and they weigh about a pound or 1.5 pounds when they are first born. When they are about two months old, they come out of their den and might start eating some meat. But they can still nurse until they are 5 or 6 months old. After that, the young leopards may stay with their mothers for as long as 2 years. We know this because of radio tracking.