A rare Amur Leopard cub in far-eastern Siberia was caught on camera as it fled from an oncoming wildfire.
Siberian Tigers might get most of the glory (and press) but there's another rare big cat prowling the wilds of far-eastern Siberia: the critically endangered Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis). It's estimated only about 90 of these secretive creatures remain in parts of northern China and the Primorye Krai region of southeastern Russia, making it one of the planet's rarest wild big cats.
The vast majority of Russia's Amur Leopards live in Land of the Leopard National Park, which is located west of Razdolnaya River and encompasses an area of 2,799 square kilometers or roughly 1,081 square miles. At the time of the last census in 2017, park staff reported the presence of 84 adult Amur Leopards and 14 kittens living within the park's boundaries.
Although the big cats enjoy a much higher level of protection inside the park, the region is plagued by seasonal wildfires which recognize no boundaries. These fires are set – illegally – by local farmers to clear their fields of dry grass and/or crop stubble. High winds often fan the flames into vast wildfires.
The Amur Leopard cub seen in these images and in this video was recorded by a camera trap less than an hour before fire swept through the area. According to park staff, the cub is approximately three months old and was accompanied by its mother, though the latter took another trail out of the camera's field of vision.
All's well that ends well: firefighters managed to put out this fire before it could reach the park, and both the mother and her cub survived their close call with nary a hair on their beautiful coats singed. (via Siberian Times)