Silent, sleek, and strong, Amur leopards are deadly hunters of deep forests. They roam large areas in search of prey. Their long, thick coat and long legs help them survive the cold and deep snow of eastern Asia.
Amur leopards rely mostly on small deer (sika and roe) for food. They carry their kill to a high point for safe storage. One carcass can feed an adult most of a week.
Not long ago, Amur leopards lived over a wide area of northern China, the Koreas, and a small part of Russia’s Far East. Expanding human populations have reduced the wilderness and isolated the leopard.
These stealthy, speedy hunters excel at climbing and jumping. They prefer to be alone rather than in the company of other Amur leopards, and keep and defend territories of up to 60 square miles—about the size of Minneapolis.
With deer populations declining and habitat being disrupted, these magnificent animals teeter on the brink of extinction. Fewer than 50 individuals live in the wild. But hope remains: recent public campaigns have saved their last refuge, and some old habitat may be restored.
- Experts say that pound for pound, leopards are the strongest of all cats. An Amur leopard can lift a 150-pound deer in its jaws to a branch 15 feet in the air.
- Only 50 Amur leopards exist in the wild. That’s fewer than the number of kids on a full school bus!
- Leopards’ camouflaging spots and padded paws help them sneak up on their prey.
- Amur leopards can run 37 mph and leap 20 feet.
- The Amur leopard gets its name from the 2,700-mile-long Amur River. It’s also known as the Russian or Far Eastern leopard.
Amur leopards are on the brink of extinction due to the loss of habitat, loss of prey, and poaching. By 2008 only 30 Amur leopards remained in the wild, isolated in a small (1,000-square-mile) pocket at the tip of Russia’s Pacific coast. The good news? An oil pipeline planned through their remaining habitat has been rerouted. New protections in China have expanded their potential territory, and efforts are underway to restore and protect additional habitat. Someday leopard from zoos may be reintroduced into newly protected habitats.