The far Eastern leopard or Amur leopard is a predator inhabiting the Ussuri taiga, mountainous regions of the Korean Peninsula and boreal forests, located in Manchuria.
The far Eastern leopard is the northernmost representative of all existing subspecies of leopard.
Based on phylogenetic and genetic data, its closest relatives are the Indo-Chinese and North Chinese leopards. Among the distant relatives include the African tiger and lion.
The first documented information about the Amur leopard date back to the year 1857. They were left by the German naturalist Hermann Schlegel. Moreover, it should be noted that all information was derived from the skins, taken from a dead predator in Korea.
Amur leopard: the area
The territory of distribution of a predator is extremely large and virtually located in the subtropical zone. However, one cannot ignore the cold currents of the Pacific ocean and air flows in Eastern Siberia, which make the coastal climate is not so comfortable for the predator like in the Crimean Peninsula and Krasnodar territory.
Habitat is characterized by icy long winters with an average temperature of -40C and hot short summers with a temperature of about 30C heat. Despite such drastic temperature changes, Amur leopards are perfectly adapted to all environmental conditions.
The usual habitat of the predator are mixed forests, mountain ledges and shores, rocky slopes with large number of caves. The Amur leopard usually hunts at a height of not more than 700 meters above sea level, where the population of ungulates is always the same stable, and hence the food resource there is more than enough.
An interesting feature is that the Amur leopard always equip his lair away from the settlements.
Amur leopard: the population of this species
To see in the wild with my own eyes of this predator – great fortune and luck. For the record, never was fixed place with a numerous population. Despite this, centuries ago the predator dwelt in large numbers throughout the Ussuri territory. He for a long time been the target of fisheries on the Korean Peninsula. According to surviving documents (the 1637 Treaty between Korea and China) are aware of the hundreds of dead animals, skins of which were exported to China.
To date, to our deepest regret, due to economic activities of people, poaching, and illegal large-scale felling of forests, the population of Amur leopards is negligible.
In South Korea the Amur leopard was last seen in 1969. As for North Korea, then any information about the life of animals and about the population of the subspecies do not exist. Until 2000 there was recorded about 40 individuals. On the borders of Primorsky Krai in 2015, the number of leopards does not exceed 60 individuals, and in China recorded a total of 12 predators.
Description of appearance
The Amur leopard is a fairly large wild cat, but in size it is inferior to the jaguars, lions and tigers:
- The body of a predator, graceful and elongated, visually a little flattened at the sides. Body length ranges from 105 to 137 see
- The height at the withers does not exceed 78 cm
- Tail long, not less than 80 cm.
- The length of the limbs is small, but despite this they are powerful.
- Claws are retractable and incredibly sharp. On the front paws the length of the claws can reach five inches.
- The weight of an adult male varies from 32 to 53 kg and females rarely exceed 43 kg.
- Head relatively small, rounded.
- Forehead convex and extremely powerful.
- The nose is broad and oblong, are painted in dark colors.
- Ears set wide apart, small and rounded.
- The pupil of the eye large, and the eye itself is not.
- Thick white and a black moustache whose length is 10 cm.
- Fangs long and sharp, the word blades.
- The body of the animal is covered with thick, whipped hair that held tightly to him. The length of wool in the belly reaches 7 cm, and on the back – no more than 5 cm in winter. The most common color is yellow with reddish, or red shade, in winter it becomes less saturated colors.
Spotted color allows the animal to blend in with the environment, thus the predator becomes invisible for the victim. Location marks on the body of the far Eastern leopard is unique to each individual.
Amur leopard is practically no different in their behavior from other cats – he prefers the solitude and independence.
Habitat individuals often have the same boundaries and, for example, one mountain path may use several members of the subspecies. Clashes between leopards are rare but if occurs, it ends tragically for the weaker of the representative of the Amur leopard. In most cases the relationship is found out adult males and young, sometimes there are conflicts between a male and a female, which need to protect their young cubs.
In the land where the Amur leopard, it is possible to meet the conditional tags – the loosened soil or snow, deep scratches on tree trunks. The animal also may “mark territory” with his urine. In most cases all marks are not along the border but mainly in the Central portion of the site.
Threat to the Amur leopard is the wolf, or rather wolves. The pack could attack the young or the adult leopard. In most cases, contradictions with the tiger or the Eurasian lynx but the subspecies does not occur. The Amur leopard is trying to stay away from the brown and Himalayan bear, because they can not only take prey, but also to displace leopard from his own lair.
Diet and hunting
- Single campaigns for prey at night – a common thing for the Amur leopard. They stay away from the hustle and bustle and don’t like the noise. For a long time can wait for prey, quietly approaching her. Caught the beast, striking its sharp teeth for eating immediately.
- Large dead animal lasts for about a week. The rest of the meat leopard hides in secluded places or drags to her lair. His prey like to eat badgers, and raccoons, bears, wild boars and foxes.
- The diet of the animal is quite extensive. In summer, the predators prefer wild goats and deer. With the onset of winter hunting for cubs of the East Asian deer and wild boars.
It is established that not all females able to produce offspring, besides for numerous reasons, these offspring in most cases die before reaching their own age. The duration of the breeding season is only a few days and comes at the end of fall or middle of winter. Males are always more attracted to young females, consequently quite frequent bloody “showdown”. Far Eastern leopards do not create long-term couples. Soon after mating, the female tries to get rid of the male and secretly settles for the upcoming motherhood.
Duration of pregnancy did not exceed 3.5 months. As a rule, the female gives birth to no more than 4 kittens. Cubs are born completely blind, the weight of each varies from 400 to 600 grams. Kittens are covered with fur of corporal color with pronounced spotting.
The cubs start to open their eyes, a week later, after birth, and two weeks are beginning to crawl. Two months later, the crumbs start to appear from the den, the world gives them interest. Five-month-old children together with his mother is already able to overcome the day up to 8 km.
Typically, up to six months babies feed on mother’s milk. 1.5-2 months the first time they try the meat, and for three months already without it can not do. In most cases, the cubs stay with their mother until the new offspring, but is able to survive on its own since a year and a half. Puberty, the male Amur leopard reaches in 2-3 years, and females – in 2 years.
In captivity, the Amur leopard lives for over 20 years in the wild the life expectancy of animals rarely exceeds 15 years.