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Care about Leopards
February 20, 2007 14:13

1st of February is the day when biologists of the Primorye region (Russian Far East) and neighbouring Chinese territories started recording population statistics of Far Eastern leopards. Said monitoring process is a joint project of Russian branch of World Wildlife Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Far Eastern branch of Russian Academy of Sciences.

According to existing leopard monitoring technique, population statistics should be recorded once in three years. This year is the first time eight recording groups from Russia and China start their routes simultaneously, planning to count leopards of 5000 square kilometer territory during two weeks.

Currently scientists are absolutely sure that the last site of Far Eastern leopards, unique predators listed at most burning pages of the Red Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Resources, is located at most south-eastern part of Russia’s Primorye region – in Khasansky, Nadezhdinsky and Yssuriysky districts. Last time Far Eastern leopards were counted was in 2003 and showed extremely low population level – as few as 28-30 great cats dwelled there at that time, since habitation conditions were rapidly worsening. New data on leopard abundance, in other words, another population statistics record is required for better understanding of the situation, counting remaining animals and finding out their distribution along the territories, as well as detecting leopard tribes and determining other population characteristics for developing new protection strategy.

Monitoring process will be performed by means of traditional techniques – registration of predators’ traces on snow cover and measuring their parameters. Traces also help to determine cat’s age and gender. Collected data will be completed with photographic monitoring, which is planned to be performed in February ad March 2007 on particular sites by means of photo-traps. Leopard droppings will be sent to Japan for genetic analysis aimed at further identification of some particular cats.

Preparation works for general leopard monitoring allowed detecting at least four leopard tribes, where two female leopards had twins. It’s the first time for the last five years, when biologists detected so many births in leopard population, thus hoping that there are now about 40 cats, which makes extinction danger a little less possible. Russian enthusiasts in collaboration with Chinese colleagues are going to maintain stable leopard population amounting to 50 cats.


Experts from WCS and WWF organized a special training for Chinese ecologists for better quality of leopard monitoring in both Primorye region and neighbouring Chinese territories. Fellows of Hunchun national reserve park and Chinese branch of WCS have mastered techniques of counting tigers and leopards using animal traces for further governmental monitoring of abovementioned great cats.

Counting tigers and leopards is a difficult task, because they migrate through state border between Russia and China, however, data of last 15 years show not less than 15 tigers dwelling in Chinese Jilin and Heylunczyan provinces. It is important for ecologists of both countries to use similar counting and monitoring techniques for facilitating further data processing and comparing.

    Russian Science News
    WWF Russia

Kizilova Anna

Tags: Far East Russian Academy of Sciences    

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