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National Park "Land of the Leopard" is nine years old

05.04.2021 192 просмотров

Save the leopard: how the national park in Primorye revives the population of an almost extinct predator.


The Land of the Leopard National Park in Primorsky Krai is celebrating nine years since its creation on Monday. The main direction of his work is the preservation of the last population of a unique animal - the Far Eastern leopard. And if in 2012 there were about 35 individuals of this predator, now there are almost a hundred of them. The director of the national park, Victor Bardyuk, told TASS about how such results were achieved.

The Far Eastern leopard is listed in the International Red Book and in the Red Book of Russia. Hunting for it and selling derivatives, including skins, is prohibited. In 2012, when the chances of restoring the wild cat population seemed negligible, the Land of the Leopard National Park was established in Primorsky Krai by decree of the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.

Biography of the National Park

In the 19th century, the Far Eastern leopard lived throughout the Korean Peninsula, in the eastern provinces of China and in the southern part of the Sikhote-Alin ridge in Primorye. But by the middle of the 20th century, the leopard disappeared from the territory of the DPRK, in eastern China the subspecies began to be found only near the border with Russia, and by the mid-1980s, the leopard was no longer found in the Sikhote-Alin.

To reduce its numbers influenced by several factors. Firstly, due to the economic development of forests and poaching, the main source of food for predators, ungulates, began to be destroyed. Secondly, deforestation and mining increased the threat of fires in leopard habitats, and new roads allowed people to get closer to the spotted cat's range. In addition, the skin and some body parts of leopards are used in oriental medicine, which attracts poachers.

“When only 30 individuals of a unique subspecies remain in the wild, this is a critical situation that requires a systematic approach. With such a figure, there was little chance [of preserving the species]. There was even a point of view that the attempt to save the Far Eastern leopard was hopeless. But there were enthusiasts who believed and were able to save the spotted predator,” the head of the national park said. Primorye region. “But thanks to the energy of [at that time the head of the presidential administration of the Russian Federation] Sergey Borisovich Ivanov , who actively supported this work and became chairman of the supervisory board of ANO Far Eastern Leopards, this task was solved. For effective work to save the rarest cat, the state provided the “Land of the Leopard” with everything necessary. The creation of the national park has become the basis for success in the conservation of the rarest large cat on the planet,” added the head of the institution.

Nine years on guard

The leadership had several tasks that, in combination, were to ensure the protection and reproduction of Red Book cats.

First, protection. “A department of protection was formed, which controls the observance of the security regime in the territory of the national park. This means: daily patrols, anti-poaching raids, detention of violators. The main goal here is the fight against poaching. Although hunting for the leopard has long been suppressed, its food base - ungulates - suffers from bullets. But this is also being gradually resolved,” Victor Bardyuk.

The second area of work is the protection of leopard habitats: the national park is fighting forest fires, is engaged in forest restoration, and is planting Korean cedars, which in Primorye they are "breadfruit" for all taiga monasteries. In 2020, our own forest crop nursery was founded with seedlings of cedar and densely flowered pine. Over the years, according to the director of the institution, the effectiveness of this approach has increased many times due to the experience gained and good technical equipment.

One of the most famous environmental projects in the country for the protection of leopards was the opening of the Narvin tunnel in 2016. For a long time, one of the problems for all animals in the national park, through which the main road of the Khasansky district runs, was the need to cross the roadway in order to get from one part of the reserve to another. The first ecological tunnel in Russia with a length of 565 meters was called upon to correct this, which allowed the animals to travel safely.

Now the largest photo monitoring network in the country operates in the national park, which allows you to track the number of the Amur leopard, determine the distribution of individuals, and study their lifestyle . A network of fire-fighting facilities has been created, a scheme of biotechnical measures has been created, and protection of the territory has been ensured. These measures, according to the head of the protected area, made it possible to achieve an increase in the number of spotted deer, roe deer and wild boars, which also ensured a consistently high number of rare cats.

“The key areas of our work have remained unchanged, but now our goals have been slightly adjusted. The population of the Far Eastern leopard has tripled, up to 100 individuals - the spotted predator is no longer on the verge of death. However, in order for the position of the subspecies to stabilize, there must be at least 150 cats in the wild. Now we need to maintain the achieved level of relative well-being of the population until it is fully restored,” said the director of the Land of the Leopard.

Development of the National Park

Thus, in nine years, "Land of the Leopard" managed to fulfill its original task of stabilizing the number of spotted cats. By 2021, the national park staff has prepared a new strategy for the conservation of the Far Eastern leopard in Russia. It has been approved by experts and is under consideration by the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation.

“The new version states the goal of creating a stable population of at least 150 individuals, and also talks about creating a reserve population in the southern Sikhote-Alin, where the leopard lived historically. It is planned that we will achieve this through reintroduction (transportation of animals in their natural environment from one habitat to another - TASS note) with a population of at least 50 individuals,” the head of the national park explained.

The success of the "Land of the Leopard" proved the possibility of effective conservation of the natural environment, taking into account the economic needs of man. Initially, the area of the national park was 262 thousand hectares, which even included the territories of some villages. In 2019, the Gamovsky cluster site on 7,000 hectares was attached to it, and now the process of merging with the Far Eastern Marine and Ussuriysk nature reserves is underway.

“At a minimum, an additional resource will be required to protect these lands, both as well as personnel. The situation with the marine reserve is especially acute, where we are talking about confrontation with poachers on the water. It is planned to purchase powerful watercraft, a line of cooperation with border services in the water area of the reserve has been built. In the Ussuriysky Reserve and the buffer zone of the Marine Reserve, fire fighting is to be organized. The possibility of reintroducing the Far Eastern leopard on the territory of the Ussuriysky Reserve is being studied,” saidViktor Bardyuk.

He added that now the environmentalists are faced with the task of uniting the protected areas in the south of Primorsky Krai into a single network through the creation of ecological corridors between existing territories and the formation of new such territories of regional and federal significance. “Such an ecological framework will help preserve valuable unique places, ensure the migration of rare animals and their food,” the director of the national park believes.

The Land of the Leopard is also developing international cooperation with colleagues from China - the Northeast Tiger National Park and a leopard. Together with them, work is underway to create the world's first transboundary reserve for Amur tigers and Amur leopards. Animals do not know borders and freely cross them, and therefore you need to think about their protection in the border zone.

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