Friday, January 23, 2009

Saving Our Predator Cats: the Amur Leopard

Many of you are probably familiar with the critical need for conservation and protection of tigers (see previous posting). These great cats have been subject to relentless hunting/poaching and their numbers are in sharp decline.

But there are other cats that have been subject to poaching as well to meet the black market demand for furs. And one is the Amur Leopard found in the northern regions of Russia, China, and North Korea. A sub-species of the leopard more commonly found in Africa, the Amur
Leopard has been listed on the IUCN 2000 Red List of Threatened Species as "critically endangered" and CITES has also listed it as endangered.

The good news is that some positive steps are being taken. In 1998, Russia adopted a conservation strategy that focuses on curbing poaching and the trafficking of leopard products, in addition to rebuilding dwindling populations of the leopards' primary food sources. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has been assisting the Russian government in monitoring the results of the strategy.

An amazing animal, with legs longer than the typical leopard for walking in snow, this cat is capable of leaping 19 feet horizontally and 9 feet vertically! The WWF has been an international leader in the conservation and protection of nature's feline predators - like many of our other predators, an important component to a healthy and balanced ecosystem.

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