Snow tracks to reveal leopard-tiger relationships

Snow tracks to reveal leopard-tiger relationships

26 January 2016

A snow tracking initiative has started at Land of the Leopard. This year, by following the snow tracks of Far Eastern leopards and Amur tigers, researchers plan to study the relationship between the two rare wild cats and find out how the tiger’s presence in the national park impacts the population of the spotted predators.


During this snow tracking, the researchers are able to register all aspects of the animals’ activity along their way, paying special attention to their markings, kills and night-time sleeping places. So far, there have been no recorded overlaps of Amur tiger and Far Eastern leopard trails. However, the two animals were found to be moving five kilometres away from each other.


“Over the last three days, our two groups have followed an adult male Amur tiger and a female Far Eastern leopard. We also followed two separate paths in order to count the tracks of the hoofed animals. We covered 30 kilometres in total. The deep snow is really holding us back, though” Dina Matyukhina, Land of the Leopard senior research associate noted.


Following the striped feline, the researchers found out that he managed to kill a female boar and a young pig. The leopardess’ hunting had been less successful so far. Avoiding the tigers, she resorts to the rocky edges on top of one of the mountain ranges where the team found many resting places in shallow caves. The researchers planted a trail camera outside one of the grottos hoping to capture a video of the female leopard and learn more about the animal.


Preliminary conclusions about the relationship between the two species will be made when the snow tracking is done. Land of the Leopard experts expect that the snow will stay until the end of the winter giving them enough time to get a better picture of how the two wild cats interact in the central and northern parts of the specially protected area, and to understand how they divide up territory in the national park.