Populations of critically endangered Amur leopards may be on the rise in Russia's Far East, according to footage from camera trap videos scientists set up in Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve and Leopardoviy Federal Wildlife Refuge, which are to be merged as the Land of the Leopard reserve. The wilderness is in the Primorsky Province nestled between China and the Sea of Japan.
Demonstrating, perhaps, just how endangered these big cats are, the footage shows 12 leopards. That's a good sign, since previous monitoring by WWF Russia and the Institute of Sustainable Use of Natural Resources showed no more than nine individuals, and because there are no more than 50 in the wild anywhere in the world.
"The results are pointing to a population increase of up to 50 per cent within the target group in Kedrovaya Pad and Leopardoviy," Sergei Aramilev, species program coordinator at WWF Russia's Amur Branch, said in a press release. "I think we can attribute this to improvements in how our reserves are managed and the long-term efforts that have gone into leopard conservation."
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Once found throughout Northeastern china and into the Korean peninsula, these leopards have been squeezed into ever smaller habitats. (Due to its cross-border habitat, it's also known as Far-Eastern leopard, Korean leopard and Manchurian leopard.) In Russia alone, they lost 80% of their habitat to logging, forest fires and farming in the 1970s and early 80s. It's also targeted by illegal poachers for its unique spotted fur.
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