The methods and difficulties of reintroducing the Far Eastern leopard

The methods and difficulties of reintroducing the Far Eastern leopard

20 August 2015

Today there are two possible ways of restoring the population of endangered wild predators: to translocate healthy species living in the wild or to reintroduce animals that have been specially adapted to live in the wild. Vyacheslav Rozhnov, director of the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, spoke about this at a congress in Sapporo, Japan.


The reintroduction programme provides for the study of territories where animals will be released, selection and adaptation of animals for reintroduction in a special centre and monitoring of animals released into the wild. Animals for reintroduction are intended to be selected from zoos and nurseries all over the world. Only pure-bred species of the Far Eastern leopard should be involved in this programme. For cubs born in captivity to adapt to an independent life in the taiga, they must have hunting skills, such as the ability to pursue prey and to avoid humans.


Specialists of the Centre for the Rehabilitation and Reintroduction of Tigers and Other Rare Animals in Alexeyevka (Primorye Territory) are successfully carrying out the programme for reintroducing orphaned tiger cubs. They have drafted an optimal schedule for feeding cubs to help them acquire hunting skills. They have also developed special tests that show whether young animals are ready to be released. Researchers watch cubs with the help of cameras, in order to minimise their contact with people.


Today the centre is working only with tiger cubs found in the taiga, but recently it accepted a young Far Eastern leopard that was injured by a poacher’s trap. Specialists hope that they will have an opportunity to mate it at the Centre for the Breeding and Reintroduction of Far Eastern Leopards, built in the Ussuri Nature Reserve of the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. If they are successful, its cubs will be released in the Lazovsky Nature Reserve.