A conservation group in Far East Russia near the North Korean and Siberian border, found the body of a nearly extinct Amur Leopard. The large cat had been shot and bludgeoned to death. Preservationists have counted between 25 and 31 Leopards left in the wild. The gruesome find came after Conservation Groups around the world have tried to aide certain species from certain obliteration. Amur Leopards are known to live only in the cold wild forest regions of Northern Russia. Scientists have stated that at least 100 of the animals are needed to prevent extinction. Only seven leopards left are females. It was not known whether the slain cat was male or female. When large cats are stressed they produce only male offspring.
The Amur Leopard who lives in mostly frigid conditions, grows fur up to 7cm. in length for warmth. The leopards are excellent climbers and can leap vertically up to 10 to 15 feet. The beautifully marked cats are mostly active at night. They exist on a diet of native deer, wild boar, and rabbits which they hunt at night. Their longer hair and long legs make them capable of surviving in the extreme climate of Siberia. They are also very strong swimmers and can run up to 37 miles per hour. The male leopard can weigh up to 198 # at maturity and a female can weigh as much as 132 #. The female gives birth to as many as 6 cubs in a litter. They give birth in the Spring or early Summer months. The Leopard was originally thought to be a cross between a Lion and a Panther. In most parts of the world the word Panther means Leopard.
Scientists have declared the Amur Leopard to be the world’s most endangered big cat on the planet. The Leopard carcass which was found was found mostly intact, puzzling many experts. The fur and parts of the cat are used for many different things and brings a high price on the illegal markets of the eastern world. An Amur Leopard skeleton can bring as much as $5,000 in China. The bones are used in Traditional Chinese Medicines. The fur is valuable as rugs or on clothing as a decoration. Back in the 1940’s almost all of the Amur Leopards had been hunted to extinction. Hunting these solitary creatures has been forbidden in Russia for a number of years. Conservation groups are pressuring the Russian Government to crack down on poachers and to increase penalties when found guilty of the crime. This all may be too little too late for the huge cats. Some of the Leopards are also killed when annual wild-fires roar through the area and destroying much of the cat’s habitat. There is also plans for a pipeline through the Leopard’s domain which might further hold back conservationist’s plans to aide the big feline.
A representative of the W.W.F. organization stated that, “a person would have to be stupid or just a coward, to destroy what little is left of this almost extinct animal.” The Leopard has been known to occasionally kill a brown bear but does not hunt human beings. An Amur Leopard may live to the age of 23 years in captivity. For more information on Amur Leopards you can go to www.amur.org.