North Chinese Leopard

North Chinese leopard (Rufus46) (CC BY-SA 3.0)Classified as endangered by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), North Chinese leopard (Panthera pardus japonensis) is a subspecies native to Northern China. Its prey base consists of wild boar and deer, but like any other leopard it will eat almost anything it can catch including birds, rodents and even insects.

About the same size as its northern cousin the Amur leopard, it also has similar fur coloration and density, although it is a little darker and shorter. The average weight in the wild is 50 kg (110 lb) for adult males and 32 kg (70 lb) for females.

Distribution

The present range of the subspecies is quite fragmented, but there was a time when North Chinese leopard ranged from Lanzhou in Central China, north to the mountains south of the Chinese Gobi Desert, and east through Harbin.

Reproduction

This subspecies mates in January and February and after a gestation period of 105-110 days two to three cubs are born. They weigh about one pound at birth, and open their eyes when about 10 days old. They stay with their mother until they are about 20-24 months old.

Social System

Like all subspecies, North Chinese leopard too is a solitary cat except for mating pairs and females with cubs. Adult males and females usually maintain territories. A male’s territory will overlap the territory of more than one female.

In Captivity

About 100 of these leopards are in zoos worldwide, with most of them in Europe. A 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 are 11 North-Chinese leopards in Taiyuan Zoo until 2014, Shanxi province in North-China.

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