This beautiful leopard is ten times more endangered than its cousin, the much better known Amur tiger; there are only about 40 left in the wild.
Panthera pardus orientalis
IUCN Red List classification
The Amur leopard once ranged across northern China and southern areas of the Russian Far East, but is now found only in a small part of southwest Primorskii Krai in Russia. Because it is adapted to the snowy winters there, it has a thicker, paler coat than leopards found in Africa or India.
Until zoos took up its cause in the mid90s, almost nobody had even heard of the Amur leopard; but now it has featured in several documentaries, and the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (ALTA) has a conservation programme in place to protect it.
Leopard numbers are monitored using cameratraps and pugmark counts, and the results from both techniques tell us that there are about 35-40 leopards left. This tiny population is threatened by forest loss through fires that are deliberately set each spring, by economic development – the area is an important one for Russia, containing ports that ship to the Far East – and by people hunting both the leopard and the deer and other species it needs for food.
It is also vulnerable to things like inbreeding depression, natural catastrophes and disease outbreaks, which can be disastrous for such small numbers
- A female leopard with cubs needs 50% more food than one on her own.
- Leopards like to take their food up trees, perhaps because they share their range with tigers.
- Leopard bones are very hard to tell from tiger bones and are often sold into the illegal Chinese medicine trade to go into products labelled “tiger”.
- There are about 200 Amur leopards in zoos, mostly in Europe and North America.
- Leopards in general are very adaptable cats; they are found in deserts and in deep snow, and they even scavenge in human suburbs in Africa, rather like foxes do in Europe.
ZSL is actively involved in Amur leopard conservation work. The following links highlight what we are doing:
Amur leopard conservation in Russia
Amur leopard project blog
Photostory about the first ever Amur leopard cam-trap photos at a livestock kill.
Photostory about ZSL's vets in action in the wild in Russia
ZSL is part of the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (ALTA). The ALTA website provides information about the Amur leopard and tiger and about its conservation projects. There are also news articles, fundraising ideas and photo galleries so take a look! Find out more
ALTA Amur leopard Conservation - 10 minutes from ALTA movies on Vimeo.
Video courtesy of ALTA
- ZSL's Amur Leopard Conservation
- ALTA Amur Leopard Programme
- Amur leopard
- Wildlife Health Project
- Amur leopard and tiger facts
- ZSL blog - the Russian far east tigers and leopards
- Photo story: ZSL vets in action in the wild in Russia
- Photostory about the first ever Amur leopard cam-trap photos at a livestock kill.