New photo traps for studying the leopard

New photo traps for studying the leopard

8 August 2013

The non-profit Eurasian centre for the study, conservation and restoration of the leopard population, known as Land of the Leopard National Park, has received funds for the installation of 200 photo traps in 2013.


A hundred of these traps are the Reconyx PC900 Professional, one of the best in the world. These cameras can operate for up to half a year without a battery change, and may be installed in remote and difficult-to-access places.


The park’s science department also received Bestok M660GM GSM and Scout Guard DTC-560K photo traps. A number of functional advantages of these models make it possible to obtain a large volume of information and save time for conducting research.


All these photo traps use a black type infra-red flash. Their operation is inconspicuous during both day and night. They don’t disturb the animals in any way.


These photo traps have produced unique shots of a pair of Far Eastern leopards (a male and female) walking together. A conventional flash would likely have startled them or at least attracted their attention for a short time, making it impossible to obtain images of them in their natural state.


The quality of the photos allows researchers to see the details of the unique patterns on their skin and identify them. They have established that the male has been registered in the park’s long-term data base under the code-name of L38 since 2011. The female has not yet been identified (this is often a lengthy process). It's possible she is a young female who has not yet been captured by photo traps.


The majority of photo traps have been installed to increase the area of monitoring the Far Eastern leopard population, primarily in  the direction of the state border with China, in the hope that leopards will visit these places.


“Some photo traps will be set up beyond the Far Eastern leopard’s normal habitat, as part of our biotechnical research, to access their performance and to see how far the cats stray from home”, said Yelena Salmanova, the park’s deputy director for science and environmental education.