International Leopard Day

By 28th April 2023Blog

International Leopard Day occurs on the 3rd of May every year. On this day people around the world celebrate this majestic species while increasing awareness of their status as well as the threats that leopard populations are faced with.

There are several recognized subspecies of leopards, although the exact number can vary depending on the taxonomic classification system used. Here are some of the commonly recognized subspecies:

  • African Leopard (Panthera pardus pardus)
  • Indian Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca)
  • Javan Leopard (Panthera pardus melas)
  • Arabian Leopard (Panthera pardus nimr)
  • Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis)
  • Sri Lankan Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya)
  • Indochinese Leopard (Panthera pardus delacouri)
  • Anatolian Leopard (Panthera pardus tulliana)

International Leopard Day

The rarest big cat in the world

Some subspecies are more threatened than others. The most endangered leopard subspecies is the Amur Leopard, which is native to the Russian Far East and parts of China. The population of Amur Leopards has declined significantly in the past few decades due to habitat loss, poaching, and human-wildlife conflict. According to the latest estimates, there are less than 100 Amur Leopards left in the wild, making them one of the most critically endangered big cats in the world.

A shrinking range

The biggest threat to Amur Leopards is habitat loss and fragmentation, which is primarily caused by human activities such as logging, development, and agriculture. As their habitat is destroyed or fragmented, Amur Leopards have fewer places to live and hunt, and they become more vulnerable to poaching, disease, and human-wildlife conflict.

Climate change is another emerging threat to Amur Leopards, as it can alter the availability of prey, disrupt breeding patterns, and affect the suitability of their habitat. As temperatures rise and weather patterns become more unpredictable, Amur Leopards may find it increasingly difficult to survive in their native range.

Amur leopards have already lost so much habitat, it is believed that their range historically extended across the Korean Peninsula, as well as parts of China and Russia. At present it is impossible to ascertain their status in the Korean peninsula, although there have been unconfirmed reports of Amur leopard sightings in the Korean Demilitarised Zone. There is even evidence to suggest they historically persisted in Seoul, Korea until 1898.

The solution?

Addressing the root causes of their decline, such as habitat loss and poaching, and mitigating the impacts of climate change, will be essential to secure a future for Amur leopards. Conservation efforts are being made to protect and increase their population and we support transboundary projects in both Russia and China through our implementing partners at the WCS. Activities we help fund includes:

  1. Anti-poaching efforts: We support anti-poaching teams and patrols in the Amur Leopard’s habitat to prevent illegal hunting of these animals and their prey
  2. Research and monitoring: We fund research and the use of camera traps to monitor Amur Leopard populations and gather data on their behaviour and ecology to feed into management plans for the species.
  3. Community engagement: The projects work with local communities to raise awareness about the importance of Amur Leopard conservation and promote sustainable livelihoods that are compatible with conservation.
  4. Transboundary conservation: We support efforts to ensure Amur leopards do not become prisoners of geography by backing WCS’s work on both sides of the border ensuring funds are allocated to work that creates transboundary conservation areas that connect habitats across national borders and promotes genetic diversity and population resilience.

What can you do this International Leopard Day?

There are several ways in which you can help support the conservation of Amur Leopards:

  1. Support conservation organizations (like us): You can support us by making a donation, becoming a member, or participating in our fundraising events. Remember 100% of your donation goes straight out to the projects who need it. Donate today!
  2. Spread awareness: Help raise awareness about the plight of Amur Leopards by sharing information about their conservation status and the threats they face on social media or by talking to your friends and family.
  3. Reduce your ecological footprint: Climate change is one of the biggest threats to Amur Leopards, and reducing your carbon footprint can help mitigate this threat. You can do this by using public transport, reducing energy consumption, and adopting a plant-based diet.
  4. Avoid products made from wildlife: Poaching is a significant threat to Amur Leopards, and you can help by avoiding products made from wildlife, such as fur, ivory, and traditional medicines containing animal parts.

By taking these actions, you can help support the conservation of Amur Leopards and contribute to their long-term survival.

Are you feline confident

Can you spot a leopard in a cluster of cats? Test your knowledge with our leopard identification quiz.