Together with many wild animals of the world today, the Amur leopard is facing the likelihood of extinction. Their threat is not by means of natural selection or a changing world but by man who has deliberately or unknowingly depleted their habitat and community. Only mans' intervention and realization of the problem can hope to save these animals (Garman 1996). According to Kutscherenko (1995) the wild population of the Amur leopard has dwindled to an estimated 120 to 140 leopards, 30 of which were counted in Russia. Distribution/Range
The Amur Leopard used to range widely throughout Korea, Manchuria and the Primorskaya Oblast of the USSR but today due to the carelessness of hunters and the destruction of their habitat and the limited selection of prey they are now reduced to reside in remote areas near the China-Russia border and parts of North Korea (Vandermey 1996).
If we were to lump all the subspecies together, the Amur leopard, with the exception of humans is one of the most successful naturally occurring land mammals in the Eastern Hemisphere. In the Eastern Hemisphere the Amur leopard is the king of adaptation, but in the taiga, or boreal forests of Russia, the Amur leopard seems to be most impressive. It is there that the leopard takes on characteristics that are similar to its cousin the Snow leopard, the Amur leopard has long fur and his behavior patterns assist in the conserving of energy and precious heat to sustain the harsh winter conditions (Quigley 1995).
The Amur leopard can adapt to almost any habitat that provides sufficient food and cover, for example in the lowlands forests he may make a home in a bush, caves or ledges on mountains, a thicket in the grasslands, brush country and deserts under he may seek shelter in a rock formation (Anonymous B). Physical Description
The Amur leopard is usually recognized by its rosette patterned coat and his extremely long dark tail. This cat is sometimes confused with the South American Jaguar, al though the Amur leopard is less stocky and his rosette markings are generally smaller and have no internal spots unlike the Jaguar (Garman 1996).
One fable describing how the leopard got his spots is about a leopard becoming good friends with a fire burning in a clearing. The leopard went to see the fire everyday, the leopards wife annoyed that her husband went the visit the fire every day and the fire not returning the visits she assumed that the fire thought himself to good for their home and was better than them. The leopard explaining this to his new friend asked him to visit. The fire made excuses at first but finally agreed to come telling the leopard that he didn't walk and would need dry leaves to travel his house. The leopard and his wife happily gathered leaves and made a path from the fires clearing to their house. Soon they head a loud crackling and looking out the window say the fire coming towards them. Once he reached the house he reached out his fiery fingers and tried to touch the leopard and his wife who was scared and ran back into the house. By then the fire had spread to the house eventually burning it down, the fire was never ask back to visit again and the leopard and his wife we left with black marks all over their body where the fire touched them (Loxton 1973).
Background color can range from pale straw and gray huff to a bright ocher and chestnut. In the summer the coat is a bright reddish-yellow color, and in the winter the coat takes on a much lighter color. The rest of the body is covered with dark spots in the pattern of rosettes with the exception of the underarms which are white. Typically, the spots start out small on the head and get larger when you reach the belly region and out to the limbs. The back of the ears are often black with a white spot (Anonymous B 1996).
In the Amur-Ussuri region the coat tends to be longer and more thick with larger spots (Bertram 1993). Amur cubs have dark...
Cited: Anonymous A. 1996. "Amur Leopard EEP (Panthera pardus orintalis)-Proposal on the Situation of the Amurian Leopard." Augsburg Zoo.
Anonymous C. 1996. "Panthera pardus." The Cyber Zoobile.
Garman, A. 1996. "Leopard: Conservation Matters." Big Cats On Line.
Quigley, H. and M. Hornocker. 1995. "On the Trail of Leopards." International Wildlife. May-June 1995: 38 - 43.
Vandermey, N. 1996. "Feline Species - Amur Leopard" Species Information.
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