Land of the Leopard National Park has finished processing the 2017 Far Eastern leopard photo monitoring data. Camera traps captured images of 84 adult leopards and 19 cubs in the national park.
"Our forecast was optimistic: the population of the world's rarest cat has increased significantly since 2012, when the park was established," Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoi said.
It took several months to check all the camera traps and process the 2017 data. Special computer programmes were used to get the results. It is important to remember that only the data on adult cats are used to count the population, because the cubs' mortality rate is very high in the wild. However, the number of adult leopards recorded shows that the population has grown.
"The increase in the number of leopards can be explained by two main factors: the expansion of the area we monitor in the national park and the growth of the population. Last year, we increased the number of monitoring stations, but the number of cats recorded in the area grew, too. In particular, there are a lot of photos of leopards who were cubs the year before. In total, we have more photos and more leopards, which is good," said Gleb Sedash, a senior researcher at Land of the Leopard.
Cats inhabiting Land of the Leopard form the core of the wild Far Eastern leopard population. Here, felines are protected from poachers and have no difficulty finding food: hoofed animals are fed to ensure a high density of deer and roe deer. However, some leopards prefer living outside the national park and Russia. The park's research department is waiting for its Chinese colleagues to send their data on the cat population.
Photo monitoring began in Land of the Leopard in 2013. As of today, there are almost 400 motion-sensor cameras in the park.