Critically endangered Amur leopards on video
14 July 2011
We’re so excited about this ‘video trap’ footage of Amur leopards in Russia’s far east. It shows Narva and Tolstyi, the leopards we follow through our adopt-an-animal programme, thriving in their habitat. And to top it off - Narva's cub is in tow!
The new footage of Amur leopards provides important and revealing insights into the lives of these unique animals.
As you can see here, one scene captures Nava, an adult female, and Tolstyi, a breeding male, moving languidly through a small forest clearing, while another shows Narva parenting her nearly grown-up female cub.
Have a look…
It’s just great to see these rare and beautiful animals in their natural habitat - but it’s also part of survey evidence that suggests these critically endangered big cats have increased in number in the southern part of their range.
El'duga, the other sponsored big cat, avoided being caught on camera, though researchers confirm she's still thriving.
Our hardy researchers confirm that there's love in the air for Narva and Tolstyi, who it's believed will soon mate. More cubs on the horizon, then!
On a serious note - the new footage provides important and revealing insights into the lives of these unique animals.
After five years of monitoring Amur leopards in other ways (including still cameras), this is the first time we’ve used video-enabled cameras to monitor the leopards living in and around the Kedrovaya Pad nature reserve. WWF has been working there alongside the Institute of Sustainable Use of Natural Resources (ISUNR).
The evidence they’ve provided is encouraging. As our head of species, Diane Walkington, points out: “When the last full census was done during the winter of 2010, estimates were that there were fewer than 40 Amur leopards left in the wild.”
“This most recent survey in one part of their habitat certainly doesn’t prove growth of the whole population, but it does demonstrate a positive trend. We hope that next winter, after monitoring is carried out across the leopards’ whole home range, we will see some positive results.”
Sergei Aramilev, species program coordinator at WWF-Russia’s Amur branch, says: “This year the survey was record-breaking. In the previous five years of camera-trapping, we were able to identify between seven and nine individuals in this area. Today we know at least 12 different leopards inhabit the territory.
“The results are pointing to a population increase in the area of up to 50% - and I think we can attribute this to improvements in how our reserves are managed and the long-term efforts that have gone into leopard conservation.”
How we’re helping protect the Amur leopard
The Amur leopard now inhabits only a fraction of its original range, which once extended throughout China’s north-eastern provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang, and into the Korean Peninsula. In Russia, about 80% of the species’ former range disappeared between 1970 and 1983.
Unsustainable logging, forest fires and land conversion for farming are the main causes. The Amur leopard - also know as the Far-Eastern leopard, Korean leopard and Manchurian leopard - has been hit hard by poaching too, mostly for its unique spotted fur.
In December 2010, Russian deputy prime minister Sergei Ivanov announced that the government would take urgent measures to protect the species, including the creation of a new national park - the ’Land of Leopard‘. The new, larger reserve will merge the Kedrovaya Pad nature reserve with the nearby Leopardovy wildlife refuge, and encompass other important habitats.
Work is also continuing to establish a trans-boundary protected area network with China, which would provide even more well-managed and connected habitat for the Amur leopard.
The results certainly seem positive so far.
Protect these very same leopards. Adopt Tolstyi, Narva and El'duga today and you'll get three updates a year on the adopted leopards, plus a cuddly toy and loads of other cool stuff
Find out more about our work to protect Amur leopards