The Amur Leopard – The Cat that’s Almost Gone
The Amur leopard, native to Russia, China, and the Koreas, is almost gone.
Also known as the Far East leopard or the Siberian leopard, this cat is listed as “Critically Endangered,” the highest rank that can be given to an animal – which means that it is highly likely that the species will disappear off the face of the earth. In fact, the Amur leopard is the most endangered of all the big cats: the vulnerable lions (population estimate: 20,000) and even the endangered tigers (population estimate: 3,200) outnumber the Amur leopard substantially.
As of 2018, there are only about 103 Amur leopards left in existence.
Unless something is done, this animal will disappear forever within only a few years.
Why It’s Endangered
One serious contributor to the Amur leopard’s predicament is poaching. While almost all leopards are poached, the Amur leopard is distinct from other leopards because it has the thickest fur: since most leopards live in warmer climates, their fur doesn’t have to be as thick to keep them warm, but because the Amur leopard lives in the cold climates of Russia, China, and the Koreas, their fur is much thicker and grows to be almost three inches long. There’s also no disputing that the designs of the Amur leopard are beautiful – and poachers think so, as well. In 1999, the pelts of Amur leopards were being sold for around a thousand dollars apiece in Russia.
Another reason that the Amur leopard has become endangered is because of habitat loss. Amur leopards can only live in specific habitat – usually a river basin within a forest. Leopards are solitary animals, too, and because they are apex predators, they need lots of space in order to hunt so they can survive: one Amur leopard’s individual territory can range anywhere from sixteen square miles to almost one hundred and twenty square miles. Because Amur leopards need large spans of territory, deforestation and pollution have been detrimental to the population. As the amount of space that the Amur leopards can live in has shrunk, their population has dwindled.
What Can Be Done
It is possible for the Amur leopard to be pulled from the brink of extinction. If the causes for its endangerment can be addressed, then this animal’s population can begin to recover.
Poaching can be mostly stopped with sufficient resources. There have already been efforts by organizations and dedicated individuals, but this isn’t enough yet: poaching is performed by highly organized and well-funded criminal organizations with state-of-the-art hunting weapons and even helicopters. As the resistance against poaching has grown over the last two decades, poachers have escalated their efforts. Additionally, poachers tend to hunt at night, which makes tracking and stopping them all the more difficult.
Habitat can be restored, as well. There have already been efforts – but this isn’t enough yet, either. Getting habitat land requires working with local and national governments as well as substantial funds in order to purchase and maintain land.
In addition, a species that is this close to extinction requires population monitoring. Because the population of the Amur Leopard has grown so low, inbreeding is a serious problem that can cause health problems in newborns. Breeding can be helped along by experts, and scientists are working on a way to help the Amur leopard population deal with this new issue.
What Genesis One Foundation is Doing
Genesis One Foundation is working with the foremost experts on the Amur Leopard, the WildCats Conservations Alliance, to ensure that the Amur Leopard gets the resources that it needs to recover. Though there is already one reserve, we’re working on raising funds so that the WildCats Conservation Alliance can get a second reserve up and running as well – a safety net for the Amur Leopards.
Donate here to help get a reservation set up for the Amur Leopard:
For checks, make out to Genesis One Foundation, Inc and send to:
Genesis One Foundation
1371 West 1250 South
Orem, UT 84058 USA