The Amur Leopard Reintroduction Program launched in Primorye
The Agreement was set up to ensure efficient collaboration of the Ministry of Natural Resources and WWF Russia in implementing the Strategy of Amur Leopard Conservation in the Russian Federation approved in 2013 and the Amur Leopard Reintroduction Program in the Russian Far East (Southern Sikhote-Alin) adopted in 2015.
The Agreement envisions collaboration in the area of effective protection and reintroduction of Amur leopard including its habitat and prey base, in environment education and information support for the Strategy and Program implementation.
Signing this document demonstrates that the Russian Government considers important the participation of WWF Russia in the Program for reintroduction of this rare predator.
Since 2001, WWF Russia has been working together with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Presidential Administration to preserve the last remaining Amur leopard population in the southwestern Primorye, including the establishment of Land of the Leopard National Park. As a result the number of leopards increased from 30 to 80. Now it is time to form a reserve population in southern Sikhote-Alin, historical range of the Amur leopard, out of animals from zoos. This exact algorithm was used and successfully implemented in the Persian Leopard Reintroduction Project in Caucasus.
“The location of the future Reintroduction Center is already determined on the territory of Lazovsky Nature Reserve in Primorsky province, the pre-design works have been launched. The Center will include two main blocks of enclosures: breeding (for breeding leopard pairs), and rehabilitation enclosures for cubs adaptation for release, - comments Alexei Kostyria, PhD, biodiversity conservation program coordinator at WWF Russia Amur Branch. - It’s critically important that no leopards will be extracted from the wild for the creation of a reserve population. The new residents will be purebred leopards specially selected from world zoos. Their offspring will be going through a special adaptation program. Only those who demonstrate hunting skills and the capacity to avoid contact with humans and tigers will be released into the wild.”
The Amur Leopard Reintroduction Program was elaborated with the great input of WWF Russia experts. It covers at least 12 years. The first releases of leopards from the Reintroduction Center are planned after 3-4 years from the program’s beginning. It is assumed that leopards will freely settle down in the coastal areas of the south of Sikhote-Alin and will form the second reserve population of 50-60 individuals.