Today on Smarty Pants Kids Conservation Report, we are taking a look at leopards. All of our featured Big Cats are in BIG trouble!
Anatolian leopard. Considered Extinct in their natural habitat of SW Turkey, a country in the Middle East of the Asian continent. No Anatolian leopard has been sighted since 1974.
Reason: Killed by trophy hunters.
Amur leopard. One of the most Critically Endangered leopards in the world since 1996. Statistics record less than 50 surviving in the cold regions of the Amur River bordering Russia and China.
They are called the Far East Leopard, the Korean Leopard, and the Manchurian leopard. There are less than a dozen Amur leopards in China and the Korean Peninsula. Zoos of the world house, preserve, and conserve more Amur leopards than are in the wild.
Reason: The Amur leopard has lost more than 80% of its habitat. Thick white or creamy fur make the Amur leopard a prize to poachers and trophy hunters.
Arabian leopard. Critically Endangered since 1996, with fewer than 200 in their mountain range, this is the smallest leopard. The Arabian leopard is only found in SE Asia, neighbor to Africa. This golden animal continues to decline.
Clouded leopard. Vulnerable. Less than 10,000 in wild regions of SE Asia, from rainforests to the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. Large, cloudlike spots outlined in black with yellow-brown to grey background make this leopard a gorgeous sight to behold.
But they are very elusive and seldom seen. They will eat a porcupine! The Clouded leopard is sometimes called the Tree Tiger.
North Chinese leopard. Endangered with extinction. Estimated less than 1,000 in a mountain range of Northern China. This leopard has lost 98% of its habitat. Poachers and international human conflict has sealed its demise. Has been caught on camera on forest mountain trails and hunting in rugged snow-covered mountains.
Indo-Chinese leopard. Extinct in some regions of SW China. Endangered with extinction in other areas of SE Asia, including Malaysia and Thailand. Trackers of the leopard have not sighted one in years.
Reason: Many are caught by snare traps and sold as tiger parts.
Indian leopard. Vulnerable. Less than 10,000 population, and declining. Dwelling in temperate, tropical, and rain forests of India, they share their habitat with the snow leopard and clouded leopard. Also, they occupy the forests of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world.
Javan leopard. Critically endangered since 2007. They number less than 200 in the wild on the Indonesian island of Java, and they are declining.
They range from tropical rainforests at sea level to heights of over 8,000 feet. They are another tree tiger, leaping from branches on their prey. Javan leopards can be black, but the spots are still there.
Reason: Only 1,000 sq. miles of habitat range is left, mostly in national parks of Java.
Persian leopard. Endangered. Estimated at less than 1,000, mostly in Iran (Persia is an ancient name for Iran). Also called the Caucasian leopard from the area of Russia that borders Europe and Asia where it originated.
The Persian leopard is big – 200 pounds, and larger than the African leopard. The subspecies range in forests and mountains. Vigorous, successful conservation programs are breeding and reintroducing the Persian leopard back into the Caucasus area.
Reason: With the population explosion of Iran, many deaths of leopards are due to road accidents, and herders killing leopards that attack their livestock.
Sri Lankan leopard. Endangered. Population at 700-950 in 2015, and decreasing. This leopard is native to the tropical island of Sri Lanka off the coast of S. Asia.
The subspecies was identified by a Sri Lankan zoologist in 1956. Also called the Ceylon leopard because Sri Lanka used to be named Ceylon. These lovely leopards roam the island hills, forests, grasslands, national parks, and plantations of farmers. There are 75 conserved in zoos.
Snow leopard. Threatened. Estimated at 4,000 in the snowy mountains of Central Asia. Though categorized in the leopard subspecies, the snow leopard is really a species of its own. This beautiful smokey grey cat has blurred black markings to blend in with the stones of its mountain habitat. Locals call him the Ghost Cat of the Himalayas.
The snow leopard preys on agile mountain goats and sheep on steep cliffs. But he is a worthy predator and can leap 50 feet (that’s as long as a school bus) to capture his meal.
Meet “Enoch,” the Black leopard. Enoch lives in Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Arizona. Enoch is a friendly feline. He lives with another black leopard called Silhouette, a tiger named Vista, and a lioness named Kora. He likes to jump on the backs of his keepers, wrestle with Kora, and play with his boomer ball. They keep him well-fed!
Black leopards are very rare and their dark pigment is called “melanism,” a chance occurrence of the gene of reproduction that produces color in leopards. In the wild, Enoch would live mainly in the hot, dense, tropical forests of Malaysia, in S. Asia. Black leopards and black Jaguars are called ‘panthers’.
How can you become a Smarty Pants Conservation Kid? Spread the news of what you have learned here today about our friend, the leopard.
Information is power. Let’s talk about these beautiful cats, so they won’t be forgotten! Learn more about the leopard here.