September 9, 2015
Shadows of the Borderland, Part 2
- as seen by -Jonathan C. Slaght
Recent efforts by the Russian government have significantly bolstered the conservation of the critically-endangered Amur leopard population, including a renewed push to modernize anti-poaching patrols (a partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society and Phoenix Fund since 2010), and the establishment of Land of the Leopard National Park in 2012.
There have been signs that this increased protection is already paying off. For example, footage in 2013 yielded the first-ever breeding record of Amur leopards in China, when an adult female walked past a camera trap trailed by two young, pitter-pattering cubs. This suggests that the core population in Russia is growing and spilling across the border into China.
To further protect Amur leopards from extinction, plans are underway to reestablish a second population in the Lazo region of the southern Russian Far East—forests once patrolled by these cryptic cats but where they have been absent for decades.
Amur leopards are still highly endangered, and still very much in need of focused conservation action, but the revelations and successes of the last few years are true cause for optimism.
Read Part 1, Shadows of the Borderland.
Editor’s Note: For more on the conservation successes of Amur leopards in Russia and China, see Emily Gertz’s recent article and her interview with Jonathan Slaght at TakePart.com, and learn about the biodiversity of Russia’s Far East on Live Science.