The year 2016 became an important milestone for Land of the Leopard National Park in terms of improving its infrastructure, said Sergei Ivanov, the Special Presidential Representative for Environmental Protection, Ecology and Transport, at a meeting of the Supervisory Board of the Far Eastern Leopards autonomous non-profit organisation, RIA Novosti reported.
The Chairman of the Supervisory Board highlighted several major improvements made over the past year: the opening of a new eco-trail, an up-to-date laboratory for the study of biological materials, and two central manor buildings. “Most importantly, after several years of hard work, the first eco-tunnel in Russia was put into operation. Now vehicles travel through the Narvinsky Pass below ground, and animals safely travel along familiar routes,” Mr Ivanov emphasised.
Tatyana Baranovskaya, director of Land of the Leopard National Park, spoke about the current state of the leopard population, noting that about 90 species were spotted during the observations, including 70 that live in the national park. In 2015 alone, 16 cubs were born – a record figure, almost three times the 2014 number.
According to Sergei Naidenko, a leading researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, the density of the leopard population in the national park is already close to its limit, and therefore the issue of ensuring their controlled migration to new territories within the boundaries of their historical area needs consideration.
In addition, the meeting participants noted a 15 percent reduction in violations of the specially protected area. In 2016, the staff of the national park security department identified 213 offences, such as illegal tree felling, hunting in the national park and others. The violators of administrative legislation were fined a total of 634,000 roubles, and criminal charges were brought in eight cases.
According to Sergei Ivanov, the organisation's ongoing priority is to assist the nature protection agencies in the Far East. The fund's resources are being systematically channelled into improving the security and fire safety systems, the development of a research programme, biotechnical activities, and incentives for employees.