Russian and Chinese scientists to count Far Eastern leopards

Russian and Chinese scientists to count Far Eastern leopards

4 December 2012

Russian and Chinese specialists will count Far Eastern leopards on the Primorye Territory-Chinese border using the animals' snow tracks, the directorate of the Leopard Land national park reported on December 4, 2012.

A Russian-Chinese working meeting dedicated to holding a winter counting of the Far Eastern leopard took place at Hunchun, a border city in China. The meeting involved Chinese environmentalists and experts from the Leopard Land national park, the Russian Academy of Sciences' Far Eastern Branch, WWF Russia and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

The meeting was targeted at drafting a general plan for taking stock of the habitat of the Far Eastern Leopard in Russia and China. The account is based on counting and measuring the leopards' snow tracks, which allows specialists to count the number of animals and determine their gender, as well as the habitat's boundaries.

According to Yelena Salmanova, the Leopard Land national park's acting deputy director for science, the winter calculation of the animals has been held in Russia since the 1970s. "This year, the first winter counting will be held in China, conducted in the same way as in Russia. Currently, there is no exact data on the spread and number of Far Eastern leopards in China, so the calculation is essential for studying and preserving this unique predator," Salmanova said.

According to the plan adopted in Hunchun, the counting of the leopards will be conducted in two stages: first in Russia and then in China.

Counting will begin in late 2012 – early 2013 when the snow cover is stable. As the counting is conducted in two stages, Chinese specialists will be able to take part in it in Russia, and practice data collection and processing.

During the second stage, Russian specialists, including experts of the Leopard Land national park, will be involved in the winter leopard counting in China.