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Amur leopard returns to China

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Arrow shows very approximate location of the forest where an Amur leopard was photographed in China.

The Amur leopard has been confirmed in China with a camera trap taking the first photos of the cat in the country in 62 years, reports Xinhua. The Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is on the edge of extinction with some 25-45 individuals left in the world.

The Amur leopard was photographed twice by camera trap in Wangqing County, China by Sun Ge, a PhD candidate with Peking University. Technically, the Amur leopard, also known as the Manchurian leopard, is considered extinct in China. But officials say as many as 10 leopards may inhabit this part of China, likely crossing nearby borders with Russia and North Korea.

Ge told the Telegraph: “I am actually researching herbivorous animals in three forests around the county, and I had not expected to capture an image of an Amur leopard at all.”

Poaching, habitat loss, road building, climate change, and declines in prey have led to the Amur leopard being listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List.

Longer fur, for cold winters in these regions, paler coats, and longer tails distinguish Amur leopards from other leopard subspecies.

 Captive young Amur leopard at the Colchester Zoo. Photo by: Keven Law.
Captive young Amur leopard at the Colchester Zoo. Photo by: Keven Law.

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