WHY CONSERVE THE AMUR LEOPARD?
The world’s rarest cats, Panthera pardus are carnivores, skilful and opportunistic hunters feeding on sika deer, roe deer, hares, badges and small rodents [2; 4]. Richards Black of BBC environment correspondent reported that the conservationist warned that the amur leopards are facing extinction in the wild, due to the action that Russian’s government took. Richards further indicated that the Russian government approved a pipeline of oil to pass through the only habitat of the leopards in the harsh eastern coast. As a result, about 30 amur leopards survived in the wild .
The factors that can cause Panthera pardus to extinct are habitat destruction, trophy hunting and fur poaching. The amur leopards are hunted because some people need the coat and some needs their bones because they used them for Traditional Chinese Medicine .
Increase in human population in the northeast of China and their use of forest resource has excluded the amur leopards. People in the southeast of Primorye are forced to rely on local forest products because of poor economy. The poor economy encourages poaching . The habitats of amur leopard change from forest to grassland because of the fire caused by human. Leopards are not suitable on the open grasslands . It is important that we conserve the habitat of amur leopards because we will be conserving them. The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is successfully managing the fire by using the satellite images to monitor the fire. The ZSL is reducing the burn every year by up to 2/3 .
The Amur Leopards and Tiger Alliance (ALTA) designed conservation strategies for the Amur leopards and that include protection of the leopards from the illegal hunting and habitat destruction, awareness programmes with local communities and scheme for deer farmers. Michiel Hotte of ZSL is working with the local Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) such as Phoenix aiming to design and implement anti-poaching patrols, fire fighting strategies and education programmes and providing funds for local livestock [1,4].
The ZSL in partnership with Moscow Zoo are co-ordinating a conservation-breeding programme of the amur leopards in the zoos. They reported that there were 100 leopards in their zoo and that it is necessary to conserve the leopards in the wild. Educating people, researches and fundraising can help in the conservation of the leopards. The ZSL have to do more because human beings are ignorant, some might stop hunting the leopards while others might not stop especially if they do not have other alternative that they use to find money. People hunting the amur leopards illegally must be prosecuted. The Russian government should re-route the oil pipeline that pass through the habitat of the amur leopards as requested by the expert, ZSL.
. Miller, S. and Jackson, P. 2005. Amur leopards. AMUR, ICUH cat specialist group. [Cited 2007 March 12, 10h00]. Available from: http://www.arkive.org/species/GES/mammals/Panthera_pardus_orientalis/more_info.html
. Wikipedia contributors. Amur Leopard [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2007 Mar 11, 13:33 UTC [cited 2007 Mar 12]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amur_Leopard
. Geocities. 1998. Endangered cats [Internet]. [Cited 2007 Mar 12]. Available from: http://www.geocities.com/rainforest/vines/2689
. The Zoological Society of London. Unknown Date. Amur leopard conservation in Russia. [Cited 2007 Mar 13, 10h00]. Available from:
. Black, R. 2005. Rare leopards ‘Rare extinction’. BBC environment correspondent [cited 2007 Mar 09, 11h30]. Available from:
. Miquelle, D. 2007. Amur Leopards. Wildlife Conservation Society. [Cited 2007 Mar 13, 14h00]. Available from:
Image 1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amur_Leopard
Ms Evelyn Maleka