Environmentalists pay a farmer for damage done by a Far Eastern leopard

Environmentalists pay a farmer for damage done by a Far Eastern leopard

20 February 2013

A female leopard, whom environmentalists are calling Sofia, has been attacking deer raised by farmer Alexander Khudenko in the Khasan District of the Primorye Territory for two years now. The law prohibits shooting rare cats, but attempts to drive the leopardess out of the farm once and for all have proven unsuccessful – nets or fences are not an obstacle for her. Moreover, last summer Sofia gave birth to cubs and now she is hunting deer much more often.


This time scientists from the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution and experts of the Phoenix Fund, which is involved in nature protection, have found a solution of this problem. They suggested giving compensation payments to Khudenko to reimburse him for the damage done by the leopardess. Now each month he receives 15,000 roubles for the loss of deer killed by the predator.


“In October 2011 we caught Sofia and put a satellite collar on her, the signal from which has allowed us to track where she goes and where she kills deer,” said Viktor Lukarevsky, a senior fellow of the institute. “The collar lasted for 16 months, and gave us unique information on her hunting habits. We reported this information to the Phoenix Fund, which started making monthly payments to the farmer.”


Attacks by leopards and tigers on livestock are not uncommon in the Primorye Territory. Environmentalists said this is a long-standing issue and can only be resolved by collective efforts. The initiators of the compensation programme want to extend it to other deer parks and farms of the territory.


“We are doing our best to seek a compromise on the co-existence of predators and people,” Lukarevsky said. “One idea is to pay farm owners to be able to shoot documentaries in national parks. Farmers, NGOs and environmentalists need to work on this problem together. Leopards should be able to obtain food for themselves and their cubs without risking their lives, and farmers should not have to sustain any losses.”