The most endangered animal in the world?

At uni, when I wasn’t drunk I was pretending to study. The thing I pretended to study the most was zoology. The study of animals, particularly endangered animals, formed my undergrad degree and is a strong focus for my Masters. I love them, though not in the mushy, happy way that the internet seems to be all about these days; lol kats anyone? I love that, despite us, many are still here. Evolution has thrown them something of a curve ball and yet some are still hanging on harder than a stripper to a waxed pole. Some are down to their last fake-finger-nailed pinkie however. The Amur Leopard is probably the prime example. It is arguably the most endangered animal on earth and is now harder to find than a well grounded celebrity.

Of course not all of them are really trying at all. Take the panda for instance. That useless bag of cute is about as capable as one-legged kangaroo. Breeding specialists can put a cycling female in with a healthy male panda and the two will give each other a look then go back to chewing slowly on chopstick wood. Useless. The majority of animals are tenuous to a fault though. The Amur leopard is one of my favorites. This bad-ass, killing machine once ruled much of Eastern Russia, China and ranged as far south as Korea. Now the thirty odd individuals in the wild are found in a very small range and contend daily with a broad range of fucked up human machinations. Poaching, deforestation and all the other goodies that form our gift to the Earth have not been kind to this sexiest of big cats. And really they are pretty sexy; a blue-green eyed blond that weighs in at about fifty kg’s and loves steak? Not an easy find anywhere.

The Amur Leopard is a big kitty, though not quite the size of their African cousins. Males will tip the scales at around 50 kg but can get up over 70 with females being a little smaller. In terms of age they can hit the mid teens in the wild and don’t breed until around three or four years old. The coolest thing about any big cat though is obviously their hunting habits and these guys and gals are no slouches. Solitary, mostly nocturnal predators they don’t have the help of a pack like lions do and the scarcity of game in their snowy countries means that in winter they will occasionally resort to scavenging and poaching other kill sites. Like the African Leopard the will drag kills to safety to avoid theft and are massively strong: benching more than a Guido juice-head. Roe deer, sika and even badgers will take a savage beating from the spotty psychos whenever the two cross paths. Basically, as with most snow bound predators, they will chow down on anything.

These cats, who share a territory with the fairly awesome Siberian Tiger, have a life cycle that doesn’t really mesh well with us. Their slow rate of growth, fragile habitat and highly dependent cubs mean that even just a small amount of negative meddling from our kind has a large negative impact on their whole species. And poaching, trapping and poisoning aren’t exactly small meddlings. Plus Russia doesn’t really give a toss; since 2000 the Big Red has greatly reduced the number of field officers they employ to protect wildlife, revoked laws protecting them and abolished conservation societies. So kitty is a bit fucked.

Thankfully it’s not all bad. Zoo populations now number around 300 and there is a completed and strong plan for reintroduction that is now just waiting for approval. Documentary filmmakers and other communicators are rallying up support and strangest of all North Korea seems to be interesting in making sure that they survive. And you know that if the government of a dictatorship is interested in something it’s probably going to happen regardless of the people in the way. There are also some cool ‘adopt-a-tiger’ programs; you can find them here. Hopefully it will follow the Siberian Tigers career path; the big, stripy cat was once reduced to around forty individuals and is now back up in the hundreds of cats and continuing to do well.

Lets wrap up with one of my favorite quotes, form the ever enigmatic Native American cultures;
“We do not inherit the world from our ancestors, we borrow it form our children”.


Anyone got any other animals that they think warrant more worry than the Amur Leopard?


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Emma Thompson on March 6, 2011 at 5:03 am

    Nice post. I think the American Woodpecker is the most endangered isn’t it. Though it might actually be extinct. Not sure.


  2. So have fun when contacting all electricians from Deuna 🙂


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