The Amur leopard of love is a mammal of the family “felidae”. This carnivore is unfortunately one of the most endangered cats in the world. Since 1996, the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) has classified this species as critically endangered.
“Panthera pardus orientalis”, of its scientific name, is a powerful predator. He can make good more than 6 meters long and 3 meters high!
Males are larger than females. They can measure up to 1.60 meters and their tail up to 0.90 meters and weigh between 30 and 60 kg depending on whether it is a male or a female.
This animal is fascinatingly beautiful. Its orange coat is dotted with small brownish spots. The underside of his body is whitish. It is provided with a thick fur which allows it to withstand the big variations of temperatures.
This predator feeds mainly on wild boars, hares, cervids, rodents. It can sometimes hunt fish that are present in shallow waters.
In captivity, the Amur Love Leopard has a life expectancy of 20 years (only between 10-15 years in the wild).
In 20 years, the territory of the Amur leopard of Love has been divided by two. According to the researchers, there would remain between 45 and 60 individuals in the wild. The Love Leopard lives on the border of China, Russia and North Korea where it is totally extinct.The rest of the population, about 200 felines, is currently distributed in zoos around the world.
In the wild, you can only meet in the temperate forests of the Russian Far East (Primorsky Krai Province) and Chinese, in the provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang (where there would be only ten such carnivores). Its current habitat covers about 5,000 km². It seems that with the years, the animals go more and more towards the north.
Threats to Panthera Pardus Orientalis
Several threats exist. They are due to various factors, the main ones being:
- A fragile population due to the problem of consanguinity
- Persistent poaching
- Habitat loss due to deforestation
- The balance of power between the inhabitants (farmers) and the leopards.
In breeding, linked to the small number of individuals, is a major problem and worries researchers. Indeed, in the wild, it is common place. The numbers speak for themselves: the number of infants per adult female dropped to 1 in 1991 from 1.9 in 1973.
Many cases have been observed, such as mating between father and daughter, or siblings. The consequences can be catastrophic, such as genetic malformations or deaths at birth.
Poaching is a plague that affects a large number of animal species. Difficult to quantify, it is however one of the main threats of our cat.
He is particularly coveted for his unique fur. In some areas, the animal would have medicinal properties; it would be resold on the Asian market for traditional medicine.
The development of cities is also one of the main causes. The villages are getting bigger and leave less and less room for the animals present in the forests. Deforestation that reduces the territory of “Panthera pardus orientalis” is dramatic. It considerably reduces the number of prey for these felines, who have more and more difficulty in finding food.
One study found that between 1970 and 1983, the Amur Love Leopard lost up to 80% of its territory. Forest fires, the development of towns and lands for agriculture would be the cause.
Finally, there is a real balance of power between the predator and the man. Because of forest fires, deer are fewer and fewer. These preys are becoming increasingly rare, the leopard is closer to farms. Local people, to protect their livestock and their land, do not hesitate to kill the animal. This vicious circle is hard to stop but everything is not lost. The territory is still substantial, and the struggle for the preservation of the species is really present.
Conservation efforts of the Amur Love Panther
Long considered to be close to extinction, the leopard of love has seen its population virtually double in the last 5 years. From 27 to 34 in 2007, the species now counts almost sixty individuals. A miracle ? Not quite. Rather, it is the result of the many efforts made by the Russian branch of WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature).
“The Love Leopard, the rarest feline on Earth, is leaving the edge of the chasm,” said Dr. Yury Darman, director of WWF’s Love-Russia branch. “We started this backup program in 2001 and today we can be proud of these 50 or so leopards living in the wild. The creation of large protected and unified areas has been crucial. These now cover 360,000 hectares of leopard habitat in Russia. “(Extract from a press release dated March 15, 2013).
In 2012, the national park “Leopard Land” or “Zemlya Leopardov” was founded in the Russian province of Primorsky Krai, on the border of China and North Korea. This vast territory, where the Amur leopards of Love and the tigers of Siberia coexist, was created with the sole aim of safeguarding the populations of these two felines. A success judging by the latest censuses. But this might not be enough because even large, the park is limited and competes with tigers and leopards for the same prey.
Elsewhere in the world, the cat’s critical situation has caused many media to react and many associations have taken an interest in safeguarding the species. One can mention the ALTA (Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance), an organization that is totally involved in the conservation of the love leopard and the Siberian tiger. These main actions are:
- Population monitoring, evolution of the population in the wild
- Communication and information to local people
- From the fight against poaching, forest fires, deforestation
- Care coverage
At the legislative level, the Amur Love Leopard is listed on CITES Appendix- I (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) which prohibits international trade except when the import is not prohibited. made for commercial but scientific purposes.
In addition, zoos around the world are home to just over 200 individuals. The latter participate in breeding, conservation and breeding programs.
They are also an important communication medium since they inform a large audience about the situation of the cat.
Reproduction of the Threatened Species
The Amur leopard of love reaches sexual maturity at the age of 3 years.
It mates during the winter, a period carefully chosen so that the young are born in good weather conditions. Indeed, the gestation period being about 3 months, the young are born in the spring. This season is perfect because it is known for its mild temperatures. Although of solitary nature, the male can sometimes stay with the female after mating in order to help her raise the young.
The range varies from 1 to 4 infants. They are weaned for 3 months and will be close to their mother for about 2 years. This long period is conducive to learning hunting techniques. It should be known that children are born blind: it is only after about ten days that leopards can discover the environment in which they live.
Learn more about the Leopard of Love
“Panthera pardus orientalis” is also called Panther of Love. Its name comes from the river “Love” which forms a border between Russia and China for more than 3,200 km.
The animal is difficult to observe. It is very easy to hide in the vegetation. This ability makes him a formidable hunter.