Russian and Chinese experts monitor migration of rare wild cats

Russian and Chinese experts monitor migration of rare wild cats

6 December 2016

Researchers have registered 15 Far Eastern leopards and 19 Amur tigers that live both in Russia and China. This data was presented by Land of the Leopard National Park, WWF Russia and China’s Feline Research Centre in the report on the project "Study on transborder movement of Amur tigers and leopards using camera trapping and molecular genetic analysis" during a meeting as part of the North-East Asian Subregional Programme for Environmental Cooperation (NEASPEC) that took place in Beijing on 28-29 November.


Researchers have collected data on the number of rare wild cats inhabiting both countries since 2014. The research showed that some Far Eastern leopards and Amur tigers have crossed the border up to 10 times. Two leopards, Denekli (Leo 9F) and Leo 81M, have made China their permanent home. It also became possible to determine the two leopards’ sex, as it had been unknown earlier.


“Especially interesting are cases when animals crossed the border just once and made the other country their permanent residence. Thus, we recorded the migration of two young leopards and two young tigers that were born in Russia and currently live in China and that have not been seen in their homeland anymore,” said Anna Vitkalova, head of the research department at Land of the Leopard. Habitat expansion is a natural process: the growing population of rare felines forces them to move to China where they used to live once.


At the Beijing meeting, the partners of the project and representatives of national relevant working groups from Russia and China outlined an action plan to protect big cats. Special attention was paid to the development of cooperation between cross-border specially protected areas. In early 2016, the Chinese government approved the establishment of a new national park, while Russia’s Primorye Territory is creating another cross-border protected area, Komissarovsky.