Published 7 April 2009


Amur Leopard skin seized by Russian Police

Moscow, Russia, 7th April 2009—Police officers inspecting a car in Primorsky province in the Russian Far East have discovered the skin of an Amur Leopard, one of the world’s rarest animals. 

The Amur Leopard skin seized by Russian police in Primorsky province; no more than 20 adult Amur Leopards are believed to exist, and this individual had apprently been shot. © S. Aramilev / WWF Russia

Only an estimated 14 to 20 adult Amur Leopards and 5 or 6 cubs survive in an area of just 2,500 km² in Russia’s south-western Primorye region according to the IUCN Redlist. The subspecies is extinct in China and the Korean Peninsula. 

The skin’s identity was confirmed by experts from the Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Medicine of the Primorsky State Agricultural Academy, experts from Primorsky province Hunting Department and WWF Russia. 

The experts noted damage to the skin indicating the animal, probably an adult male, had been shot, most likely in 2008. 

Photographs of the skin may help identify the individual involved by comparing it against a database of known surviving Amur Leopards. 

Sergey Aramilev, Biodiversity Conservation Co-ordinator with WWF Russia’s Amur branch described the killing as “an act of outspoken barbarism.” 

Natalia Pervushina, co-ordinator of TRAFFIC’s Russian Far East programme commented: “WWF Russia and TRAFFIC hope the Internal Police Service will succeed in tracing and prosecuting the animal’s killer.” 

Anyone convicted of killing an Amur Leopard in Russia faces up to two years imprisonment and a fine of up to RUB500,000 (USD15,100).