The Amur Leopard, which lives primarily in Russia's Far East, has been on the brink of extinction for many decades. Just 100 years ago the species was abundant in Russia, China and the entire Korean Peninsula. Today there are fewer than 100 Amur Leopards remaining. There are many reasons why:
1. Depleted food supply
The Amur Leopard primarily hunts wild game. Due to deforestation and illegal hunting, many of the animals it eats have died out or moved elsewhere.
The Amur Leopard's fur is highly valued across the world for its natural beauty and can be sold on the black market for thousands of dollars. The fur is subsequently used in making coats, shoes and even interior designs. Other parts of the leopard's body are believed to have medicinal value in certain cultures. Hence, despite potential prison time and hefty fines, poachers continue to hunt leopards in Russia's Far East.
3. Human Encroachment
Deforestation and mining have had an adverse effect on the Amur Leopard's ecosystem. The risk of forest fires has increased, while service roads built through its environment have made hunting the leopard more accessible to poachers.
Air, soil and water pollution have all adversely affected the Amur Leopard's environment. Things you can do to help save the Amur Leopard:
- Don't buy any clothing, fashion or medicinal products containing any parts of the Amur Leopard. The World Wildlife Fund runs a Buyer Beware page to help you avoid products sold by poachers or their intermediaries.
- Sign a petition to end poaching of the Amur Leopard. The same organization runs one to Stop Wildlife Crime.
- Donate to an organization fighting to save the Amur Leopard. The Global Giving Foundation has already raised nearly $80,000 (but is still short of its goal!) for the Phoenix Fund, a major nonprofit fighting to save the leopard.
Volunteer with an organization like the International Anti-Poaching Foundation
to help protect wildlife.