Native to East Russia and North East China, the beautiful Amur Leopard is the most endangered big cat in the world, it is thought that there are only around 60 individuals left in the wild. Living and hunting alone, the Amur leopard is a very skilful hunter, stalking their prey to within a striking distance of a few metres.
Amur Leopard – Panthera pardus orientalis
Yorkshire Wildlife Park is home to four Amur leopards, parents Drake and Freya and their cubs Anadyr and Teva. Leopard Heights (Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s Leopard reserve) is the largest Amur leopard facility in Europe. Designed as a purpose built breeding and reintroduction facility, it won the BIAZA (British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums) award for Significant Advances in Husbandry and Welfare. The Amur Leopard is the only big cat with a reintroduction programme approved by the IUCN and all the Amur Leopards in zoos and parks worldwide are being bred in a programme towards this reintroduction. It is hoped that one day soon, Drake and Freya’s cubs will play an important role in this project.
WHAT YWPF ARE DOING
Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation are proud supporters of the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (ALTA), a charity committed to the conservation of both Amur Leopards and Tigers in Eastern Russia.
International Breeding Programme
Yorkshire Wildlife Park in association with Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation and ALTA are part of an international breeding programme, with an aim to reintroduce offspring back into the wild. On the 28th June 2015, Yorkshire Wildlife Park welcomed the birth of two Amur leopard cubs, Anadyr and Teva. These cubs and their parents, Drake and Freya, could be critical in an international plan to reintroduce them back into the native habitat.
Conditions have stabilised and the Amur Tiger and Leopard Alliance (ALTA) recently announced plans for a re-introduction in the Lazovsky Nature Reserve in Southern Sikhote Alin, an area where leopards disappeared approximately 30 years ago. Improved conservation efforts in Russia and China combined with an increase in the leopards’ traditional prey of sika deer has provided confidence that a new population numbers could rise over the next 15 years.
YWPF also fund imperative monitoring of leopard populations across Far East Russia. ALTA have been successfully monitoring Amur leopard populations using camera traps since 2003, utilising the camera traps to identify leopard individuals by their unique pelage characteristics. This allows ALTA to monitor individual leopards over many years, estimate population density and trends over time and understand the rates of population turnover.
The habitat of the Amur leopard is under constant threat of forest fires. A recent analysis of the Kedrovaya Pad nature reserve has revealed that on average, 7% of the region burns annually and as much as 21% burned at least once during the six-year period. The money raised by YWPF goes to help repair and expand firebreak systems and further monitor areas affected by forest fires. ALTA expect to be able to reduce the area of the reserve that annually burns by 80%.
Supporting Anti-Poaching Teams
The poaching of Amur leopards is one of the major threats the species is facing. ALTA have operated a very successful mobile anti-poaching team since 1998, acting against all forms of poaching, as well as against illegal trade in animal parts. So far the team has drawn up over a thousand citations, seized more than 400 firearms and five skins or other leopard and tiger parts, and initiated over forty criminal proceedings. The anti-poaching team are vital to halt the decline of this critically endangered animal, however they need funds to continue their amazing work!
WHAT YOU CAN DO
The good news is; you can do your bit to help!
We need amazing people like yourselves to help raise awareness and funds for these critically endangered animals. You could do anything to raise money, from a sponsored walk to throwing yourself out of a plane (with a parachute of course), the only limit is your imagination! If you would like a few ideas on how to fundraise for YWPF, we’ve done the hard work for you! Click here for some fundraising ideas!
We are always extremely grateful to receive donations from our supporters, anything you can give to YWPF will go a long way to help conserve Amur leopards in the wild! Click the button below to donate today!