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Preserving the Amur leopard

5 September 2022
Сохранение дальневосточного леопарда

On the opening day of the Eastern Economic Forum, a session entitled Conservation of the Amur Leopard’ was held. The event focused on the current status of the Amur leopard population in Russia, the reintroduction programme for the Amur leopard at Lazovsky and Ussuriysky State Nature Reserves, and the results of genetic studies of the population.

The speakers noted that today there are fewer Amur leopards than there are tigers. Leopards are included in the Red Book. At the beginning of the 20th century there were about 35–40 of them, while today the Land of the Leopard is home to 121 adult animals and 14 cubs. During the same period the number of tigers in the area has increased from 18 to 55 individuals. Today no emergency measures are needed to save them, but systematic work is required to create favourable conditions to preserve and expand the population.

Vladimir Stroganov, Deputy Director of the Department of State Policy and Regulation of Protected Areas Development, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, thanked all those who care about biodiversity conservation in Russia and provide help in solving problems in this area.

According to Dina Matyukhina, Senior Researcher of the The Land of Leopard, the first leopard census in Russia was conducted in the 1970—80s, when their number did not exceed 25–30 individuals. Over an area of 3,760 sq. km, 212 observation stations were set up. The tiger population density was 0.4 and the leopard population density was 1.4.

According to Taisia Marchenkova, a researcher of the Land of the Leopard Federal Biosphere Reserve, the four leopard studies conducted from 2000 to 2021 have shown that genetic changes in the population over 20 years are low. Therefore, she believes that it is advisable to attract individuals from zoos around the world to reintroduce the population.

Vladimir Aramilev, Director of the United Directorate of the Lazovsky Reserve and the Call of the Tiger National Park, proposed to create a Reintroduction Centre in the Lazovsky Reserve with a breeding population of Amur leopards that could be gathered within the next 10–15 years.

In his speech at the session, singer Dima Bilan, the ‘godfather’ of the Amur leopard, called on all concerned colleagues and bloggers to take part in the conservation of the Amur leopard and Amur tiger not in word but in deed. «We must preserve our nature and its diverse wildlife and make our own contribution to this noble cause,» added the performer.

As a result of the speakers’ presentations, a session resolution was adopted on the need to:

— sign an agreement between China and Russia on creating ‘The Land of the Big Cats’, a cross-border reserve;

— create an international research centre to study cross-border populations of the Amur tiger and Amur leopard;

— create environmental corridors;

— approve the Programme to reintroduce the Amur leopard to the territory of the Ussuriysky State Nature Reserve;

— develop mechanisms/programmes to insure farms and cover their damages.