There is a special giant cat that lives in the Far East of Russia. There are less than 100 Amur leopards left in the world and scientists are monitoring the species to ensure it survives and hopefully thrives in the future.
Highly endangered species: Amur leopards
Only several dozen Amur leopards are left on our planet. The majority of these animals inhabit Russia, only 5% of them live in China.
Primorskii region (Far East of the Russia) and Jilin province (northern China) are where these animals reside.
These huge cats (Panthera pardus orientalis) are rightly regarded as the largest representatives in their family. The length of the body is up to 3.5 meters, and the average weight is 200 kg. It’s a much larger cat than its relatives, African panthers.
The life expectancy of these mammals is 15 years.
Death penalty for killing a leopard
These animals are extremely rare – killing an Amur leopard in China is punishable by death. China is serious about protecting this rare species.
In order to find out the exact number of the animals, scientists from all around the world joined forces to collect information, Science Daily reported.
Chinese, Russian, and American researchers made an assessment of the situation with the help of cameras installed both at the Russian and Chinese borders. Leopards, or panthers, weren’t detected anywhere else besides the East of Russia and the North of the Republic of China, so the number of this rare species could be considered quite accurate, and stands at on 84 animals.
There are very few panthers left, but they were even fewer in number at the end of the 1990s – from 25 to 50 beasts, according to the research made during the period.
At the time it was hard to collect the exact information due to the level of technology. For example, researchers used to count panthers by examining traces in the snow.
Today, filming is the most efficient way to find out the exact number of these animals as every one of them has its own pattern that is unique, just like our fingerprints. Each animal is added to a list and numbered.
Using the data from the cameras, the scientists concluded that 30% of leopards had been filmed on both sides of the border between above-mentioned countries. Though the panthers’ movements across the border could make the eventual results quite incorrect if the old research methods were used.
Russian biologist A. Vitkalova stated that it is only with the support of the international team of researchers that it was possible to count number of members of the rate species. A lot of panthers have moved from Russia to China, and the Chinese population of leopards has almost peaked.
Miquelle, one of the authors of the study, stated that this research is a fantastic example of well-coordinated teamwork of professionals from different countries. This action can be considered as a foundation of the further fruitful cooperation in the important task of maintaining the beauty and variety of our planet’s fauna.
Russia is home to the majority of these special cats.
Photo: Emmanual Rondeau