North-Chinese leopard

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North-Chinese leopard
Zoo du jardin des plantes, Paris mai 2014 (22).jpg
A leopard at Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes, France
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Felidae
Genus: Panthera
Species: P. pardus
Subspecies: P. p. orientalis
Trinomial name
Panthera pardus orientalis
(Schlegel, 1857)
Synonyms[1]

formerly:

  • P. p. chinensis
    (Gray, 1867)
  • P. p. bedfordi
    (Pocock, 1930)
  • P. p. japonensis
    (Gray, 1862)

The North-Chinese leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis),[2] also known as North China leopard, is a leopard population native to northern China. Population data from the wild are not available.[3]

Before being subsumed by the Cat Classification Task Force of the Cat Specialist Group to P. p. orientalis, it was regarded as a separate subspecies, with the taxonomic name P. p. japonensis.[2] Results of genetic studies indicate that it is genetically close to the Amur leopard, and probably evolved from it recently.[4]

Characteristics[edit]

A captive leopard at Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes, France

The North-Chinese leopard was first described on the basis of a single tanned skin, which was fulvous above and pale beneath with large roundish, oblong black spots on the back and limbs, and small black spots on the head. The spots on the back, shoulders and sides formed a ring around a central fulvous spot. The black spots on the nape were elongated, and large ones on the chest formed a necklace. The tail was spotted and had four black rings at the tip.[5]

It is similar in size to the Amur leopard, and its coats is darker and almost orange in colour. The rosettes are also darker, smaller and closer together with the possibility of spots being within the rosettes, a trait more often found in jaguars than in leopards. Its fur is also relatively long when compared to other leopard subspecies. The average weight of adult wild males is 50 kg (110 lb) and of adult females 32 kg (71 lb).[citation needed]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Historic records from before 1930 indicate that North-Chinese leopards lived near Beijing and in the mountains to the north-west. They possibly ranged up to the southern Ussuri region.[6] It was previously estimated that about 2,500 North-Chinese leopards remain in the wild of China. As of today, only small and isolated populations remain, as estimated by the bureau in Shanxi.[7] They also lived in Lanzhou in Northwest China, north to the mountains at the southern region of the Chinese Gobi Desert in Inner Mongolia, and near Harbin in the northeast.

Ecology and behavior[edit]

A cub at Cottbus Zoo
A captive leopard at the African Safari near Toulouse

The North-Chinese leopard is solitary except for mating pairs and females with cubs. Adult males and females usually maintain territories.[citation needed] The leopard mates in January and February and after a gestation period of 105–110 days two to three young are born. The cubs weigh about one pound at birth, and open their eyes when they are about 10 days old. They will stay with their mother until they are about 20–24 months old.[citation needed]

Its prey base consists of deer and wild boar.[citation needed]

Threats[edit]

The North-Chinese leopard is threatened by poaching, habitat loss, deforestation and mostly by the illegal trade for leopard skins.[3]

Conservation status[edit]

The Chinese leopards are included on CITES Appendix I. The leopards need better protection from illegal trade in skins and bones.[3]

In captivity[edit]

Captive leopard in Tierpark Hellabrunn, Germany

About 100 North-Chinese leopards are kept in zoos worldwide, with the vast majority in Europe. One male, known as Cheung Chi was responsible for siring over fifteen cubs up to 1988. Now he has over 40 descendants, leading to problems with maintaining genetic diversity. There is a European Endangered Species Program for this leopard for which roughly 60 individuals are participating.[citation needed] There are 11 North-Chinese leopards in Taiyuan Zoo (太原动物园) until 2014, Shanxi province in North-China.

Taxonomic history[edit]

Between 1867 and 1907, different authors described leopards from China using the scientific names Felis chinensis, bedfordi, fontanierii, grayi, and Panthera hanensis.[1][8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Panthera pardus japonensis". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 547. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ a b Kitchener, A. C., Breitenmoser-Würsten, C., Eizirik, E., Gentry, A., Werdelin, L., Wilting A., Yamaguchi, N., Abramov, A. V., Christiansen, P., Driscoll, C., Duckworth, J. W., Johnson, W., Luo, S.-J., Meijaard, E., O’Donoghue, P., Sanderson, J., Seymour, K., Bruford, M., Groves, C., Hoffmann, M., Nowell, K., Timmons, Z. & Tobe, S. (2017). "A revised taxonomy of the Felidae: The final report of the Cat Classification Task Force of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group" (PDF). Cat News. Special Issue 11. 
  3. ^ a b c Stein, A.B.; Athreya, V.; Gerngross, P.; Balme, G.; Henschel, P.; Karanth, U.; Miquelle, D.; Rostro, S.; Kamler, J.F.; Laguardia, A. (2016). "Panthera pardus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 
  4. ^ Uphyrkina, O., O’Brien, S.J. (2003). "Applying molecular genetic tools to the conservation and action plan for the critically endangered Far Eastern leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis)". Comptes Rendus Biologies 326: S93–S97. 
  5. ^ Gray, J. E. (1862). Description of some new species of Mammalia. Proceedings of the Scientific Meetings of the Zoological Society of London for the Year 1862: 262.
  6. ^ Ellerman, J.R. and T.C.S. Morrison-Scott. (1966). Checklist of Palaearctic and Indian mammals 1758 to 1946. Second edition. British Museum (Natural History), London.
  7. ^ Dou, H., Feng, L., Xiao, W., & Wang, T. (2014). The complete mitochondrial genome of the North Chinese Leopard (Panthera pardus japonensis). Mitochondrial DNA: 1-2.
  8. ^ Stein, A. B.; Hayssen, V. (2010). "Panthera pardus (Carnivora: Felidae)" (PDF). Mammalian Species. 45 (900): 30–48. doi:10.1644/900.1.