First stage of rare felines international genetic monitoring campaign completed

First stage of rare felines international genetic monitoring campaign completed

25 March 2015

One hundred seventy-five samples of genetic material from Far Eastern leopards and Amur tigers have been collected in Land of the Leopard National Park during the first trans-border monitoring of rare feline species. To preserve the DNA, the samples must be kept frozen, so the genetic monitoring can only be conducted in sub-zero temperatures. Experts hope that they have collected samples of all 57 leopards registered in the national park.


While collecting the samples, the Land of the Leopard employees installed additional trail cameras, most of which were placed in the flatlands, the habitat of the Amur tiger.


“Photo monitoring will help evaluate the accuracy of the results of the genetic monitoring,” said Yelena Salmanova, deputy director for research at Land of the Leopard. “Using this method, we will bring genetic monitoring to a new level.”


Genetic monitoring offers more accurate answers to the questions of sex, age and family relations of an animal, as well as about its habitat. By exchanging this data with the park’s Chinese colleagues, it is possible to find out how many leopards and tigers cross the Russian-Chinese border. Eventually, this will allow for creating the most efficient programme to preserve these species in the wild.


For the first time, the molecular and genetic monitoring of the Far Eastern leopard and the Amur tiger populations was conducted in Land of the Leopard and in northern China in early 2015. During the first stage of the campaign, hair and feces of the animals were collected. At the second stage, the laboratories of the Biology and Soil Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ eastern branch will extract the DNA, which will be studied with the use of special equipment in Beijing. The work is carried out as part of the NEASPEC international programme with the participation of the Amur Region branch of the WWF.