Sunday, April 15, 2012

Land of the Leopard: Hope for Amur Leopards

Add caption
The Amur Leopard is the most endangered large cat on the planet. In fact, it is ranked among the most endangered animals on earth. It's wild population in a remote forest of Eastern Russia has been reduced to just 30 remaining animals. You would think that living in such a remote, frozen area of the world would protect these cats from human encroachment, but unfortunately, that is not the case. Habitat destruction due to logging and forest fires, not to mention illegal poaching and game hunting have very nearly brought this species down.

But, where there is a will, let's hope there will be a way. There have been some amazing steps taken to help save the Amur Leopard recently. For example, when the Russian government tried to build an oil pipeline through the center of the only remaining habitat for these animals, organizations like The Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (ALTA) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCA) spoke out in opposition, bringing the plight of these animals and their certain demise to the international media. They convinced all of the major banks to refuse to fund the billions of dollars needed to complete the pipeline if it was built through the leopards' home. In the end, the decision was made to run the pipeline through an already established industrial area, instead, and the Amur leopards were granted a reprieve.

Now there is even better news. It seems the Russian government may have recognized the value of protecting these animals. Land of the Leopard National Park has just opened in Russia in an effort to protect the critically endangered Siberian Tigers and Amur Leopards. It combines three smaller protected areas and adds a large tract of previously unprotected lands along the Chinese boarder. The park is now 1,011 square miles of protected habitat. Many organizations including the two already listed will continue helping to protect the park's large cats and their prey from illegal hunting. They will continue to create fire breaks and train fire fighters in the prevention of further forest fires, and they will work to prevent further logging and habitat destruction. Finally, there may just be some hope for the future of these beautiful cats. In their honor, here's a little video of some captive Amur Leopard cubs for your viewing pleasure. Please consider visiting  ALTA or WCS and find out how you can help save the Amur Leopards.


Andi Lea said...

Seriously, too much cute in that video! Thank you for letting me know how I can help. :)

Zooleft said...

I was going to go for the serious documentary, and then I found the cubs. Who could resist? LOL!