(Panthera pardus orientalis)
|Critically Endangered||S.W.region of Primorski Krai province in Russia, E. Manchukua in N.E. China||3 - 4 years|
|Number of Young||Gestation||Life Span|
|2||112 days||20 years|
The leopard is a solitary animal which hunts mainly at night and hides during the day. The Amur leopards, also known as the Far Eastern leopards, are the northern most subspecies of leopard and are well adapted to snowy winters. They inhabit an area to the west of Vladivostok. The Amur leopards prefer mixed forest where there are sufficient numbers of deer, hares, badgers and raccoon dogs that form the bulk of their prey. They often make their dens in caves and bury their prey under fallen leaves. The cubs are born in a den and suckle for three months.
Deforestation, the use of animal parts for traditional medicine and conflict with humans has had a devastating effect on the leopard population. There has also been a drastic reduction in the number of prey species, and further disruption due to mineral extraction and extensive road building. The Amur leopard has been a protected species in Russia since 1956, but there is still a problem with poaching.
In situ (in the wild) conservation efforts include anti-poaching patrols, customs control, fighting forest fires, environmental education programmes and the tightening of regulations on hunting methods used for other species (eg. hunting with dogs and steel traps has been discontinued in some areas). A census carried out in February 2000 found 22 ? 27 individual Amur leopards left in the wild.
The Amur leopard has a long, thick coat. The coat is a light straw yellow in the winter and darker in the summer. There are large areas of white on the underside of the body. Spots are large, black rosettes that may form solid rings.
There is a healthy breeding population of Amur leopards in the world's zoos but these cannot be successfully introduced until there is suitable protected habitat and sufficient prey species for them. Marwells' first Amur leopards arrived in 2002.
In the zoo we feed our leopards on joints of beef, pork and lamb or chicken, sprinkled with a mineral supplement. They have a starve day once a week as, in the wild, leopards will gorge themselves when prey is caught and may not have the chance to eat again for several days. Their enclosure has platforms where the leopards will rest or sleep. They also have access to an indoor den.