Results of the Far Eastern Leopard programme expedition

Results of the Far Eastern Leopard programme expedition

27 February 2012

The latest stage of the Far Eastern Leopard programme expedition has been completed in the Far East. For two months from December 2011 to February 2012 scientists surveyed various parts of the southwest of the Primorye Territory, and checked existing camera traps and installed new ones.

Between August and September 2011 zoologists from the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the Russian Academy of Sciences (IEES RAS) fitted satellite tracking collars to several adult Far Eastern leopards in the Leopardovy and Kedrovaya Pad nature reserves.


Scientists are currently continuing to monitor the movements of two of the leopards – Sofia and Safar. The female Sofia lives on the outskirts of the deer park, which she enters and wanders round from time to time. The zoologists already know most of her home territory.


A Far Eastern leopard male known as Safar lives on the left bank of the Barabashevka River (along most of the middle flow) and the middle part of the basin of the Amba River. After the death of another leopard Uzor, Safar's home territory expanded significantly along the upper length of this river.


A technical error with the satellite tracking collars on two other leopards, Slavyanka and Khasan, which worked for one and four months respectively, means they have stopped transmitting signals. The data that was obtained during the time they were working shows that Khasan's home territory takes up practically the entire area of the Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve.


In order to study the structure of the home territories, as well as the distribution and numbers of the Far Eastern leopard in the southwest of the Primorye Territory, an additional 60 camera traps have been installed. In the future the scientists hope to obtain photo identification of every leopard living in this area and to create a database of individual portraits of each of them. This is the most important information necessary for the conservation of the habitats of the Far Eastern leopard.


The work of the staff of the IEES RAS has had to be carried out in atrocious weather conditions. In order to detect the leopards' tracks and install the camera traps zoologists had to walk between 10 and 15 kilometres through dense taiga every day. Special off-road vehicles (snowmobiles, quad bikes and expedition jeeps) were needed to negotiate the roads. Since they had to work in remote areas away from populated settlements, the zoologists slept in accommodation modules (based on the Unimog car). This meant the scientists were able to live in the forest even in the most extreme cold.