April 23, 2007—An Amur leopardess has been found dead a mere two days after a new census reported that just 25 to 34 Amur leopards remain alive in the wild—only 7 of them female.
The 77-pound (35-kilogram) cat, seen in this newly released photograph, was discovered on April 20 in Russia's Barsovy National Wildlife Refuge.
The animal had been shot in the back and beaten with a heavy object, according to the international conservation group WWF.
The killing of a reproductively capable female puts the threatened carnivore even further from the hundred or more individuals scientists say are needed to sustain its wild population.
Now the world's rarest big cat, the Amur leopard once roamed across the Korean peninsula, in the Russian Far East, and in northeastern China. But human impacts have pulverized its population.
"This year's census showed a desperate situation, with just seven female Amur leopards left in the wild and four rearing cubs,' said Darron Collins, an expert in the species based at WWF's Washington, D.C., office.
"Now we've lost a mature, reproductive leopardess and her potential cubs in a senseless killing."
More Photos in the News
Today's 15 Most Read Stories
Free Email Newsletter: Focus on Photography