Vladivostok hosted a meeting under the auspices of the Far Eastern Leopards autonomous non-profit organisation. The meeting brought together Merited Ecologist of Russia Vsevolod Stepanitsky, advisor to the general director of Far Eastern Leopards; Natalya Troitskaya, director of the Partnership for Nature Reserves; Umar Semyonov, head of the Persian Leopard Breeding and Rehabilitation Centre; Merited Ecologist Yury Darman; Dale Miquelle, director of WCS Russia; Alexander Ruchin, DSc in Biology and director of Nature of Mordovia; Svetlana Sutyrina, PhD in Biology and acting director of the Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Reserve; Mikhail Yablokov, PhD in Biology; and other experts.
Participants in the meeting spent three days developing a roadmap of Land of the Leopard's future research activities. During the meeting, experts were divided into three groups; each of them shared their recommendations. On the final day, group moderators made concluding speeches and participants discussed the roadmap.
One of the objectives of the future programme is to create a sustainable global population of the Far Eastern leopard.
"One hundred fifty animals is the approximate minimum that can ensure genetic diversity and the population's disease resistance," said Viktor Bardyuk, director of Land of the Leopard. "But it is important to understand that numbers are not the main criteria. Most important is to maintain the growth of the population, and the growth rate can vary for reasons beyond our control. One of the programme's objectives is to predict these reasons and respond to possible threats."
All participants noted the importance of veterinary research at Land of the Leopard. To that end, as part of a special subprogramme experts will study the health of the spotted predators' main prey, which can transmit various diseases. This direction will be part of the research work of the future programme.
The second part, dedicated to research and technology, will consist of various kinds of environmental monitoring, an inventory of plants and animals, and the creation of geographic information systems and databases.
"It has become obvious that all the separate tables, scientific publications and the database from camera trap images must be integrated into a single information and analytical system," said Yelena Gangalo, general director of Far Eastern Leopards. "It will combine all the information we have and will allow us to work with it in a comprehensive way. Both experts who add to the database and third-party users can connect to it. Importantly, in addition to scientific data, the system should contain information about environmental, forestry, financial and economic activities. All data will be used in working on the integrated platform."
Following the meeting, a draft research and environmental monitoring programme for Land of the Leopard will be developed for the next five years. The goal is to provide research support to environmental activities, including the creation of a sustainable global population of the Far Eastern leopard with no less than 150 adult animals. Within a month, the draft programme will be developed and submitted to Land of the Leopard's research and technical council.