Amur Leopard Population

The current wildcat news which is considered good news is that the Amur leopard population has almost doubled to 12 (2011). The bad bit about this news is the ridiculously low figure. And let’s not forget that it is difficult to count wildcat numbers and there is nearly always a vested interest there somewhere to massage the figures.

The best way to count numbers is through camera traps (cameras that are well positioned and which fire off when the animal passes in front of it). The video above must be from a video camera trap.

Pardon me for being a bit jaded and cynical but I don’t see a lot to shout about when the estimated figure for the entire population of this rare subspecies of leopard (scientific name: Panthera pardus orientalis) is only a dozen individuals. Is this a sustainable population? Is inbreeding causing infertility?

The Amur leopard lives in the same region as the Siberian tiger and the tiger has a breeding population (14) that is much lower than the actual population (over 400). This is due to inbreeding and infertility.

The Amur leopard population has been extremely low for a long time. Perhaps Russia wants to send out some good news. Putin likes to do this. He likes to be associated with tigers and leopards as it enhances his macho image.

The Amur leopard is considered critically endangered by the people at the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ (Red List). That is one step from extinct in the wild. This is a very rare subspecies.

Date Population
2000 13-16 adults and 1-3 cubs
2003 20-21 adults and 4-5 cubs
2007 14-20 adults and 5-6 cubs
2011 12

As can be seen the doubling to 12 individuals is hardly something to shout about as it is still a decline since 2003. Source: Red List.

The Amur leopard lives in the southwestern Primorye region (Primorskiy kray, Russia) of Russia. It is extinct in China and the Korean Peninsula (Anonymous 2007).


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