The Far Eastern leopard cub Leo 80M, who lost three toes in a poacher's trap, has been revaccinated against cat diseases and has been issued an international veterinary certificate, which includes information about the his age and vaccinations and his description. The vets also took blood samples.
"Based on the leopard's examination and behaviour, we can conclude that he is healthy. Hence, the first stage of his rehabilitation was a success: the cat is in good health. In the second stage, the leopard will improve his hunting skills, while we'll be watching him to determine if he's ready for life in the wild," said Viktor Kuzmenko, managing director of the Center for Rehabilitation and Reintroduction of Tigers and Other Rare Animals, where Leo 80M is living now.
Whether the leopard is released into the wild or not, scientists will continue to monitor his life: in the next few months, he will be given a GPS collar. He is now wearing an ordinary collar to become used to it.
"The future of Leo 80M is not decided yet, but the main thing is that he must feel as comfortable as possible no matter where he lives. (…) If the collective decision is that releasing him would endanger his life, we will help him settle in a spacious enclosure that will be at least 500 or 600 square metres large," said Tatyana Baranovskaya, director of Land of the Leopard National Park.
Scientists plan to put a one-year-old spotted fawn into the enclosure this week. They hope to videotape the hunting process to see how the leopard hunts without three toes on a front paw. The leopard will be subjected to several tests to see how he reacts to humans, whom he must avoid in the wild.