According to researchers from Land of the Leopard National Park and Beijing Normal University, there are at least 80 Far Eastern leopards living in the wild worldwide. They arrived at this conclusion based on Far Eastern leopard photo monitoring data obtained both in Russia and China.
Earlier, Russian researchers operated using data obtained solely in Russia. According to photo monitoring and winter leopard track count, it became known in 2015 that there are about 70 spotted predators residing in Russia. However, no data on the number of leopards in China was available then.
At a meeting held at the headquarters of Land of the Leopard National Park in Vladivostok, experts from Beijing Normal University reported that photo monitoring of these rare cats has been taking place in China since July 2012, covering an area of 6,000 square km. The Chinese researchers managed to put together a sizable databank in a matter of three years. The same leopards were identified in the Russian and Chinese databases, meaning these animals actively move back and forth across the border.
"Of course, the fact that the global population size of the Far Eastern leopard is higher is great news," Environment Minister Sergei Donskoi said. "The fact that the leopard is now also living in China is the result of many years of work by Russian specialists. We hope that our Chinese colleagues will join us in these activities and will help bring the number of the Far Eastern leopards in the wild to a stable level, thus protecting this species from the threat of extinction."
Following the meeting, senior executives of Land of the Leopard National Park and Beijing Normal University signed a cooperation agreement for exchanging data on the number of leopards residing near the border between the two countries.
"This agreement is very welcome, as it will promote the relations between our two countries," Director of Land of the Leopard National Park Tatyana Baranovskaya said. "We are certain it will allow us to do more in studying the Far Eastern leopard and preserving its population."
Large-scale studies of the Far Eastern leopard in Russia are carried out using photo monitoring on an area of 3,000 square km with the support of the Presidential Administration, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Russian Geographical Society, the autonomous non-profit organisation Far Eastern Leopards, the Russian Academy of Sciences, WWF, WCS and other nongovernmental environmental organisations.