In the far reaches of Russia the worlds most endangered cat now struggles for survival. A unique leopard set apart by its lanky legs and long fur, it has long been hunted for its beautiful spotted coat. Where the Amur leopard was once known to live along the Korean Peninsula, the last 50 Amur leopards are now found only in the Russia Far East and northeastern China.
A census took place in 2007 in which researchers based the estimated numbers off of snow tracks covering 1,930 square miles. According to National Geographic only 25 to 34 wild Amur leopards were thought to remain, which was about 66 fewer than were needed to create a viable gene pool to ensure survival. However when this census was taken there was thought to be at least four leopard litters.
A new census done by WWF has showed that the population has almost doubled in the last five years with an estimated 48-50 individuals remaining. No doubt in part by the Russian government’s help in creating the 650,000 acre reserve called the Land of the Leopard National Park. This has helped to slow the leopards greatest threat: poaching. Even though there are so few leopards left, poachers are still the main threat and are continuing to hunt the big cats for their beautiful pelts.
Amur leopards are capable of running up to 37 miles per hour and leaping over 19 feet. They are considered solitary, but there have been some reports of the males staying with the females after mating and even helping rear the young. They live about 10 to 15 years and are also known as the Far East leopard, the Manchurian leopard and the Korean leopard.