Amur Leopards are one of the rarest felines in the world. They are speedy creatures able to run up to 35 miles per hour, faster than Usain Bolt!
Amazing Facts About the Amur Leopard
Amur leopards have thick white or cream fur with large, widely spaced black spots called “rosettes” covering the head, back, tail and legs. Fur length varies from summer (0.7–0.9 in) to winter (2.8 in).
Their bushy tails can be as long as 32–35 in (81–89 cm). They are not just for show, though – they wrap them around themselves to keep warm during the winter.
Where do they live?
Amur leopards, also known as Far East leopards, Manchurian leopards or Korean leopards, are found in the Russian Far East. Their range is small – they live in the forests of a temperate region crossed by the Amur River, a natural boundary between China and Russia. They are the only leopard subspecies adapted to survive in both extreme snowy winter and hot summer climates.
Where do Amur leopards rest?
Amur leopards are nocturnal, so they sleep during the day in cool caves or sheltered spots.
What do Amur leopards eat?
Like other big cats, they are carnivores. They are opportunistic, so they are not fussy eaters, but prey consists mainly of roe and sika deer, hares, wild pigs and badgers. Although, when feeling brave, they have been known to eat young black bears.
Food can be scarce, so if they have food left over, they may drag and hide the remains from other predators that might fancy a nibble.
How are they adapted to eating meat?
Amur leopards have rough tongues covered in tiny hooks called denticles that they use to scrape meat off the bone of their prey.
Are Amur leopards sociable?
Amur leopards are highly territorial and live alone, only coming together to mate.
How big is an Amur leopard’s territory?
Individual leopards can have territories of 19–116 square miles, which is the size of 56,144 football fields.
How fast can they run?
Like other leopards, Amur leopards are fast and nimble. They can run at speeds of up to 37 miles per hour and leap up to 19 ft (5.8 m) horizontally.
Who would win in a race between an Amur leopard and Usain Bolt?
In a race between Usain Bolt and an Amur leopard, there is no contest; Bolt would be left in the dust as he runs at up to 28 miles per hour.
How many cubs do they have?
Female Amur leopards start reproducing at three to four years of age. A litter of between one and four cubs is born around 12 weeks after mating. Cubs are born with their eyes closed and only begin to open them seven or eight days after birth.
How long do cubs stay with their mothers?
Cubs stay with their mothers for up to two years before braving the wild alone.
What is their biggest threat?
Amur leopards are some of the most endangered big cats in the world. The main threats are poaching for fur, hunting of prey species and habitat loss due to farming development, growth of cities and human-induced forest fires.
The small size of the population means inbreeding is also becoming a problem. Genetic diversity is low, and as such, individuals are at risk from abnormalities that can impact health, reproduction and survival.
Do Amur leopards have predators?
No. They are predators. However, prey choice overlaps with that of the tiger. A reduction in small prey availability, particularly in winter, puts Amur leopards at risk from tigers, who will prey on them to reduce competition for food.
What is being done to help Amur leopards?
There is still hope that we can save Amur leopards from extinction. And recent studies show that the population is stable and even increasing.
The Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (ALTA) was set up by Russian and Western conservation organisations to conserve both the Amur leopard and Amur tiger. Working across Northeast Asia, ALTA aims to coordinate conservation efforts of all relevant parties. Initiatives include the presence of anti-poaching teams, monitoring and tracking of populations, monitoring of fires and research into firefighting techniques, production of plans to ensure land development considers Amur leopard habitats, and increasing awareness and education.
Image credit: Fabio Usvardi, Creative Commons Attribution- Share Alike 3.0
- Type: Mammal
- Diet: Canivore
- Lifespan: 15 years
- Size: 40-75 in (length)
- Weight: 71–106 lb (males); 55–93 lb (females)
- Habitat: Temperate, Broadleaf, and Mixed Forests
- Range: Russian Far East from Amur to Heilong
- Scientific name: Panthera pardus orientalis