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Amur Leopard Only Dozens Left

December 28, 2013 by  

Amur Leopard Only Dozens Left, Snow leopards are some of the rarest big cats around, but they’re not the rarest leopards in east Asia. That sad title goes to the Amur leopard, of which there are only a few dozen left. But they’re not gone yet: the camera trap footage above shows a female with a pair of cubs going for a stroll in notheast China.

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, which shared the footage, there are between 30 and 50 individuals left in eastern Russia, based on camera trap surveys conducted with Russian scientists since 1997. The IUCN has listed the leopard subspecies as critically endangered since 1996, with a couple surveys in the last decade pegging their numbers at slightly lower than the WCS estimate.

This most recent camera footage is heartening, and the WCS says it’s the first record of the cat actually breeding in China, a region where the cat has been thought to be extinct for some time. Like snow leopards and Amur tigers, the Amur leopard makes its home in the remote mountainous and forested regions of Russia’s Far East, northeast China, and the northern portion of the Korean peninsula. But unlike the latter two cats, Amur leopards avoid the deep snows of the northern part of the regions, and as human development expands from the south and west, they’ve been pinched in ever-smaller territory. That makes the discovery of breeding leopards in China even better.

“This incredible find is important for two reasons. Firstly, it shows that our current efforts are paying off but, secondly, it shows that China can no longer be considered peripheral to the fate of both wild Amur leopards and tigers,” WCS Executive Director for Asia Programs Joe Walstos said in a release. “With a few key decisions by the government, China could become a major sanctuary for the species.”

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