Leopards seen near Khasan District deer farm again

Leopards seen near Khasan District deer farm again

1 December 2013

Cameras have taken pictures once again of Sofia the Far Eastern leopardess, together with a leopard cub and a male leopard on the territory of a deer farm. Now, the experts will compare the new photos with hundreds of others in the database to determine if Sofia has made new friends.


Alexander Khudenko, the owner of the deer farm, is pleased to see the new photos as well. The Phoenix Fund has issued compensation to Khudenko for allowing the leopards to live on the territory bordering the deer farm. Starting from May, by November the compensation amounted to 105,000 roubles – no small sum.


The Phoenix Fund has given the farmer additional cameras to be installed around the perimeter of the deer farm so that he can monitor the presence of leopards on his territory.


Over the past two years, Sofia the Far Eastern leopardess has lived close to one of these deer farms in the Khasan District in Primorye Territory. Initially the farmer was not very pleased with the presence of the leopards because they hunted on his farm and caused him substantial damage on a regular basis.


To resolve this conflict, the Phoenix Fund, jointly with the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences, have developed a special programme aimed at improving farmers’ relations with these rare predators.


The key feature of the programme, as compared with simple compensation for any domestic animals killed, is that the deer farm receives fixed monthly monetary compensation for allowing the leopards to exist in the farm’s immediate vicinity. If a domestic animal is killed by a predator, the farmer does not need to call in legal experts and inspectors do not need to spend precious time on a trip to the farm. It is all very simple. If a leopard lives near a deer farm, the farmer receives money and the leopards are given free rein. If the leopards disappear from the area around the farm, the guaranteed monthly payment will stop and experts will visit the farm to see why the leopards disappeared.


Scientists first attached collar radio transmitters on the leopards so as to monitor their whereabouts. Then they installed cameras around the farm to take pictures of the leopards.


Scientists and environmental experts hope that the project will encourage local residents to feel loyalty and tolerance towards these rare and beautiful cats, as well as a sense of pride for living near such unique animals.