LEOPARD

CONSERVATION STATUS:

Vulnerable

WILD POPULATION:

Unknown

POPULATION TREND:

Decreasing

Leopards are prominent members of the big cat family. They have the largest range of all big cats, spanning over 60 countries throughout Eurasia and Africa. Despite this, they have become extinct in much of their historic territory and their numbers continue to decline.

Leopards have arguably the most iconic patterned coat in the animal kingdom. Sadly this is one of the reasons why humans have exploited them.

There are nine subspecies of leopard. Whilst overall the conservation status of leopards is vulnerable, some of these subspecies are actually critically endangered. Two examples of these are the Arabian leopard, with only 200 left in the wild and the Amur leopard, with only 100 remaining in the wild.

Leopards are apex predators, and so play a vital role in maintaining a healthy environment. Therefore, if any subspecies were to go extinct, then those ecosystems would lose their top predator, upsetting the natural balance of the particular ecosystem.

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THREATS

Habitat loss (farming, urban development, forest fires, mining and timber harvesting).

Illegal wildlife trade (fur products, traditional medicine, bushmeat and the exotic pet and circus trades).

Trophy hunting.

Human-leopard conflict (resulting from leopards eating farmers' livestock due to a lack of natural prey).

Climate change.

War and civil unrest.

Disease.

To find out in more detail about the threats they face, go to Panthera's page here.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

As a species in decline, it's safe to say action is needed to ensure a future for wild leopards. Below, we've come up with individual actions we can take to turn this around:

 TOP TIP: The first and most obvious is to donate to conservation efforts. This is the best thing you can do to help secure a future for leopards. There are plenty of organisations carrying out essential work to combat the complicated threats facing leopards. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to find the organisations that we recommend.

Logging poses a threat to leopard populations as it can take away their natural habitat. Opting for sustainably sourced, or better yet second-hand, products made from wood are both brilliant ways to help combat this problem. You could also take a look at our Paper Problems page for tips on how to cut down on paper usage.

The wildlife trade poses a huge threat to leopards. Refusing to buy products made from exotic animals, or taking part in trophy hunting, are both great ways to help protect leopards and other wildlife.

Climate change is causing a loss of suitable habitat for the critically endangered Amur leopard. A practical way to help is to take action to prevent climate change. Have a look at our page here if you wish to find out individual ways of how to do so.

Signing petitions is another great way to bring about positive change. Scroll down to the next section to find online petitions, which we recommend signing to help protect leopards.

The most adventurous way to help may be travelling to Africa or Eurasia to see leopards in the wild. Going on safari is a great way of letting the government of that country know that protecting its wildlife is important. It's also a great way to learn more about leopard conservation. Just make sure to avoid elephant ride safaris, as these fuel cruel practices and have a negative effect on wild elephant populations.

 

You could go an extra step and carry out a volunteering experience, in which you'll directly contribute to leopard conservation. Find out more in the 'Conservation Tourism' section below.

If travelling doesn't appeal, or isn't a realistic option for you, then many places around the world keep leopards in captivity. It's important to know that although it's exciting to see wild animals up close, their well-being in a cage is certainly questionable. If you really want to see a leopard in captivity then our guidance would be that with that desire to see one, you also have the desire to learn more about how we can protect them in the wild. Using advice from this page, or that you learn elsewhere, we encourage you to take some action to protect wild leopards. If you want to visit a leopard in captivity then we recommend that you do your research beforehand and choose somewhere that is supporting leopard conservation with its profits.

Another way to help is to shop for products which support leopard conservation:

 

Our founder, Chad Killoran, has a website selling prints of his artwork. If you're interested you could buy a print of his leopard portrait, shown below, and a percentage of the profit goes towards Wildlife SOS in India.

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Wildcats Conservation Alliance's online shop sells t-shirts, hoodies and tote bags, with all profits going to the conservation of critically endangered Amur leopards and tigers.

Critically Endangered Socksonline shop sells socks which support conservation of the critically endangered Amur leopard.

Cape Leopard Trust's online shop sells clothing merchandise, shoppers, stationary and cuddly toys.

If you shop with Amazon then you could use AmazonSmile. It's the same as Amazon only when you shop they donate a percentage of the profit to a charity you choose, at no extra cost to you! If you're based in the United Kingdom, you could go to the UK site and select the WWF UK as your chosen charity. If you're based in the US, you could go to the US site and choose Panthera, World Wildlife Fund or African Wildlife Foundation as your chosen charity.

One of the best ways to help is to spread the word about this page and what you've learnt about the challenges facing leopards. Awareness is the first step towards solving any problem! 

PETITIONS

Signing the following petitions is a great way to bring about positive change for wild leopards:

The Rainforest Site's petition is appealing to the Russian government to enforce stronger penalties for the poaching and smuggling of the critically endangered Amur leopard.

Rainforest Rescue's petition is calling upon the president of Cameroon to stop its plans to destroy 60,000 hectares of forest, home to leopards and other wildlife, for palm oil plantations.

Jessica Garcia's petition is urging the Russian government to step up its conservation efforts for the critically endangered Amur leopard. 

Karlyn Whipple's petition is urging the Russian government to devote more resources to protect the critically endangered Amur leopard.

#EndTheTrade Coalition's petition is calling on our world’s governments to permanently end the commercial trade and sale in markets of wild terrestrial animals worldwide.

Born Free's petition is urging countries to close down the legal practice of trophy hunting and asking for countries to stop allowing the importation of trophies from threatened species.

CONSERVATION TOURISM

INDIA: Wildlife SOS is the leading wildlife NGO in India, striving to protect the future of various species. Although they have a leopard sanctuary, this is off limits to visitors as the aim is to release injured leopards back into the wild wherever possible. They have elephant and sloth bear rescue centres that are open to visitors, as well as a brilliant volunteer program. Volunteer fees go towards their brilliant conservation work, which includes protecting wild leopard populations in India.

SRI LANKA: The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society is an organisation committed to the protection of Sri Lanka's endangered wildlife. The organisation has a volunteer project that allows you to directly contribute to the conservation of wild leopards and elephants in Sri Lanka. Activities include monitoring, track surveying and liaising with local people near Wasgamuwa National Park.

CONSERVATION ORGANISATIONS

The following organisations are carrying out essential work to ensure a future for wild leopards:

Cape Leopard Trust's vision is to ensure the long-term survival of the leopard population in South Africa. They do this by promoting peaceful coexistence and the protection of landscapes, empowered by scientific research, positive community partnerships, education and advocacy.

Phoenix Fund carry out important projects aimed at conserving the biodiversity of the Russian Far East, with an emphasis on critically endangered Amur leopards and endangered Amur tigers. Their current Amur leopard fundraiser is a great option for donating directly to leopard conservation.

Leopard Conservation Project's focus is to protect South Africa's leopard population from poaching, poisoning, trapping and over-hunting. They aim to ensure a future for leopards through protection, research and education projects.

Wildcats Conservation Alliance’s mission is to save critically endangered Amur leopards and wild tigers for future generations by funding projects that focus on key conservation activities. These include anti-poaching, conflict mitigation, wildlife monitoring and education.

Wildlife SOS treats and releases many wild leopards injured or displaced in conflicts with humans in India. They operate a leopard sanctuary, where they care for over 30 leopards that have suffered permanent and debilitating injuries, making them unfit for release back into the wild. Donations here will less directly benefit leopards, as donations go towards a wide range of essential work to improve conditions for a range of wildlife throughout India.

Panthera is dedicated to protecting all species of big cat. Their Project Pardus' goal is to improve the status of leopard populations across at least 20% of their range, including the critically endangered Arabian leopard. Contributions here will less directly benefit leopards, as donations go towards a wide range of brilliant projects which improve conditions for all wild big cats around the world. An ideal organisation to donate towards if you love all big cats but can't decide which you want to support!

WWF UK is carrying out work to protect the critically endangered Amur leopard. If you want, you could symbolically adopt an Amur leopard and proceeds will go towards the WWF's work to protect this subspecies in the wild.

African Wildlife Foundation is one of the main organisations focused exclusively on conserving Africa's wildlife. They are working to help protect leopards by creating predator-proof enclosures for livestock, preventing both livestock and leopard deaths. They are also using GPS collars to study leopards. Donations here will less directly benefit leopards, as proceeds go towards a wide range of brilliant projects which improve conditions for all wildlife throughout Africa.

The Wilderness & Wildlife Conservation Trust's aim is to protect wilderness areas in Sri Lanka and protect and conserve its wildlife, including the vulnerable Sri Lankan leopard subspecies, which has fewer than 1,000 individuals remaining.

WCS Russia aims to improve wildlife and habitat protection in the Russian Far East, home to some of the world’s rarest species, including the critically endangered Amur leopard. They are conducting essential research to improve the understanding of this leopard, as well as other wildlife in the region. Donations here will less directly benefit leopards, as proceeds go towards a wide range of commendable projects which improve conditions for wildlife worldwide, find out more here.

If you know of any more ways in which we can create a better future for leopards, then please get in contact with your suggestions!