The Amur leopard is a rare beauty. Originally from Korea, it is now critically endangered, partly due to poaching by farmers who kill the large cat because it eats their sheep and goats, and by hunters who covet the animal’s fur.
But the main threat to this species, also known as the Manchurian or Korean leopard, is simply growing human populations, which have pushed this fierce feline out of its natural habitat by burning the grassland it normally lives on for agriculture and development. The results of these actions have been truly devastating–today, there are only about 16-20 adult cats left in the world, and about 5-6 cubs, making inbreeding a problem for this very endangered animal.
Fortunately, there are some groups focused on saving this animal, such as the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (ALTA) , an international organization aimed at conserving the Amur leopard and the equally threatened Amur tiger. It aims to do so through close co-operation with local, regional, and federal governments to create legislation that will punish poachers and ensure the animal’s habitat is protected. They also work with NGOs to protect the region’s biological wealth through conservation, sustainable development and local community involvement.
It would be a tragedy if these beautiful cats were to disappear from the Earth completely. You can contribute to ALTA’s efforts to save this large cat by visiting http://www.altaconservation.org