An overweight Far Eastern leopard filmed by camera traps in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province has been confirmed as Leo 91M, who had been spotted at Land of the Leopard National Park in Russia before.
Chinese rangers thought that the leopard with a big belly was a pregnant female, but a comparison of the cat's spots with photographs from the joint Russian-Chinese database showed that it is a male. Experts from Land of the Leopard believe that the cat was photographed soon after a successful hunt and a hearty dinner.
"A specific feature of the predators' nutritional system is that they can eat up to 20 percent of their weight in one meal. This is why large cats, such as leopards and tigers, can survive for long periods between good hunting. Considering the size of this male's belly, we can assume that he will not hunt for at least a week," said Yekaterina Blidchenko, a senior research associate at Land of the Leopard and zoologist at the Centre for the Rehabilitation and Reintroduction of Tigers and Other Rare Animals.
The south-western part of the Primorye Territory in Russia and the woodland in the Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces of China are the habitat of the world's only wild population of the Far Eastern leopard. Experts believe that the leopard photographed in China is fresh evidence of the effectiveness of conservation measures being taken in Russia and China.
According to recent data, there are some 80 Far Eastern leopards and approximately 540 Amur tigers in the world. Since 2014, at least 15 leopards and 19 tigers with "dual citizenship" have been spotted both in Russia and China.