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ANIMAL
OF THE WEEK
The lower mandible of the eastern white pelicanís beak is flexible and has a large pouch attached to it. read more >

Amur leopard

Scientific name: Panthera pardus orientalis


CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Carnivora
FAMILY: Felidae

FEEDING TYPE: Carnivore
STATISTICS: Body Length: 4 to 6.5 ft; Weight: 60 to 150 lbs

DESCRIPTION:
This leopard is brown to golden in color with hair that is an inch long in the summer and nearly three inches long in the winter. It has widely spaced rosettes (hollow spots) and longer legs than most leopards. Spots get smaller and darker as they go down the leg and are eventually all black. The Amur leopard is also know for its long bushy tail.

RANGE:
Russian Far East to North China

HABITAT:
Temperate forests

ADAPTATIONS:
The Amur leopard is nocturnal and solitary by nature. It spends most of its day lounging on tree branches or hiding in thick brush or rocky outcrops. During the evening it may travel 15 to 45 miles each night protecting its territory and searching for food. It normally patrols at a steady walk but can run over 35 miles per hour when disturbed.

Leopards are considered big cats even though the Amur leopard is petite. The Amur leopard can roar, which is one of the requirements to be considered a large cat. The roar is produced as air passes through the larynx in the throat as it travels to the lungs. The walls of the larynx vibrate, producing a roar. Jaguars, lions, and tigers also roar.

In order to maneuver in its rocky, forested habitat the Amur leopard can leap up to 20 feet across and ten feet up or down. This agility helps the leopard carry off and hide its prey so that it cannot be taken by another predator.

REPRODUCTION/GROWTH:
Although normally solitary, it has been reported that some males will stay with a female and assist with the raising of the cubs. Breeding occurs between January and February with a gestation of 90-105 days. Birth generally occurs in a cave, hollow tree, or thicket. One to four cubs are usually born. Cubs open their eyes after ten days and are weaned at 30 days. Cubs will stay with their mother for 1.5 to two years. Females become sexually mature between three and four years of age.

PREY/PREDATOR:
Predator to: deer, small wild boar, hares, badgers, and raccoon dogs
Prey to: man

STATUS:
It is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List due to population and range reduction. It is also listed in CITES as Appendix I.

SPECIAL NOTES:

  • A 2007 census reported less than 50 individuals left in the wild. The Amur leopard has the lowest genetic variation of any leopard subspecies and is considered the rarest big cat in the world. It is particularly vulnerable in Russian Far East, where many people ranch deer for meat and medicinal use. In the absence of wild prey, the leopard will hunt in these deer farms and is quickly hunted down by the ranchers.
     
  • The leopard can adapt to almost any habitat with good food sources and cover. It is believed that within a 13-year period, the Amur leopard lost 80 percent of its historic territory.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. Novak, Ronald M. Walker’s Mammals of the World. Vol I. Baltimore, Maryland. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1991
  2. IUCN Red List. January 28, 2009
  3. World Wildlife Fund January 29, 2009
  4. AMUR January 29, 2009
  5. Wildlife Conservation Society. January 30, 2009
     

Published: February 2009

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