An unusual guest has been seen in the enclosure of the Far Eastern leopard Leo 131M. The cameras that were installed to monitor the predator spotted another member of the feline family: the Amur leopard cat. The small cat uses the same paths as the leopard.
Experts at the Tiger Centre received these unexpected images after installing a new camera trap in Leo 131M's enclosure. They believe that due to its small size, the wild cat was able to get through the fence, attracted by the remains of the leopard's prey.
An Amur leopard cat in Leo 131M’s enclosure
"It is quite interesting to see how the leopard cat behaves in this situation. It has to avoid the larger predator, because it can easily become the prey itself. However, the cunning cat seems to know how to get to the food of the leopard, the master of this area," said Yekaterina Blidchenko, a researcher at Vorontsov Land of the Leopard and a zoologist at the rehabilitation centre.
Researchers also note that the leopard cat takes a great risk by intruding into the leopard's area; they will keep monitoring the situation.
Meanwhile, Leo 131M continues to polish his hunting skills. He has to hunt to eat, which helps stimulate his activity to ensure an effective rehabilitation and natural behaviour. At the same time, experts cannot predict whether the leopard will be fit for release back into the wild due to his lingering limp. The decision will be made later, after a long period of observations and medical check-ups. The Far Eastern Leopards autonomous non-profit organisation is covering the costs of housing and treating the leopard.
The injured male Far Eastern leopard, known as Leo 131M, was captured by the local hunting supervision department near Land of the Leopard on 3 March 2019. He was brought to the Tiger Centre in critical condition. Judging from his injuries, researchers believe that the leopard was hit by a car. After two months of treatment, the predator was moved to a 5,000-square-metre open-air enclosure.