Amur panther

He is a wild animal

Origin
Southeast Russia (Primorye region) and northeast China (Jilin province)
Translation
Francis Vandersteen
The possession of this animal is not authorized Royal Decree establishing the list of mammals not kept for production purposes that may be kept (M.B. 24.08.2009)
The Amur panther (Pantheras pardus orientalis), also known as the Chinese panther, is a subspecies of the leopard.

It has been classified as "critically endangered" since 1996 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Only 50 wild individuals were recorded in 2012, in addition to 200 individuals in captivity. Its name refers to the Amur River, which flows through Siberia and China.

The Amur panther differs from other subspecies in having a thick, mottled coat that is unlike any other. The coats of panthers from the Amur River basin, the mountains of northeast China and the Korean peninsula are cream-colored, especially in winter. The rosettes on the flanks are 5 cm × 5 cm, thick and well spaced, with thick, darker circles in the center.

Their coat is soft and long and thick. Their back hair varies in length from 20-25 mm in summer to 50 mm in winter. Their winter coat varies from a light yellow to a golden-tinged reddish-yellow. Their summer coat is shinier and the rosettes are more vividly colored. Amur panthers are quite small, males measuring between 107 and 136 cm, with a tail length of 82 to 90 cm and a height of 64 to 78 cm. They weigh between 32.2 and 53 kg (some specimens have even reached 60 kg) and females between 25 and 42.5 kg. The average weight for males is 55 kg and for females 34 kg.

In 1857, when Hermann Schlegel discovered these animals, they covered a large territory of around 3,000 km2, including the border between China and North Korea. Amur panthers lived in northeast Asia, probably from Beijing and the Korean peninsula. In the 1950s, their distribution in Russia was limited to the extreme south of the Ussuri region. They have been observed 50 km north of Vladivostok and in the Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve. Amur panthers live in mountainous areas. They are found where Sika deer live and deer breeding is practiced. In winter, they stay on snow-free rocky slopes.

By the 1970s, the Russian population had fragmented into three small, distinct populations. At the beginning of the following century, the only remaining population was in southwestern Primorye, where it occupied a territory of around 3,000 km2 along the border between China and North Korea. In 2009, North Korea's only official website reported that there were a few leopards in the Myohyangsan Nature Reserve in Hyangsan county. This is probably the southernmost population. In China, several Amur panthers were photographed by camera traps in Wangqing and Hunchun, in eastern Jilin province.

Amur panthers are extremely protective when it comes to their choice of territory. The territory of one individual is generally located in the basin of a river and extends to the natural topographical boundaries of the area. The territory of two individuals may sometimes overlap slightly. Depending on sex, age and family size, an individual's territory can measure between 5,000 and 30,000 ha. They may use the same trails, migration routes and sometimes rest in the same places. Where wild animals are abundant, panthers live there permanently or migrate vertically, following herds of ungulates and avoiding the snow. In the Ussuri region, their main prey are deer, Sika deer, Manchurian elk, musk deer, elk and wild boar. Less frequently, they feed on hares, badgers, poultry and mice. In the Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve, deer are their main prey throughout the year, but they also hunt young Asiatic black bears less than two years old.

Amur panthers are sexually mature between 2 and 3 years of age, and can reproduce up to the age of 10-15. Heat periods last between 12 and 18 days, and in exceptional cases, up to 25 days. Gestation lasts between 90 and 105 days. At birth, the young weigh between 500 and 700 grams, open their eyes on days 7-10 and begin to crawl on days 12-15. They emerge from their dens in the second month and begin to eat meat. At the same time, they continue to feed on milk for five or six months. The young generally stay with their mother until she comes into heat again. Until the 1970s, two to three young were seen in the Kedrovaya Pad nature reserve in Primorsky Krai and northeast China, usually between March and May. In captivity, some individuals have lived up to 21 years. Studies have confirmed that youngsters can stay with their mothers for up to two years. In the Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve, cubs from two different litters have been found to stay with their mothers at the same time.

Amur panthers are threatened by poaching, the encroachment of civilization, road building, forest exploitation and climate change. Tigers can eliminate panthers if the density of large and medium-sized prey is low. Competition between the two predators is thought to diminish in summer, when small prey are more abundant. Winter conditions are less favorable for tigers, so competition with Amur panthers reaches a peak.

In 2015, a female Amur Leopard was taken in by a rehabilitation center for wildlife affected by distemper. The spread of this disease, perhaps through contact with dogs or small wild carnivores, poses an epizootic threat to the small Amur Leopard populations.

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