Primorsky Province: Leopard Festival celebrated on the Land of the Leopard
A cheerful company of leopards with flags, banners and slogans together with Panda marched on September 20-21 in the villages of Slavyanka and Volno-Nadezhdinskoye of Primorsky Province. Leopard Festival is already celebrated for 11th time in Khasansky and 7th time in Nadezhdinsky district of Primorye, in the home range of this rare spotted cat. It was organized by the district Education Departments with support of ANO “Far Eastern leopards”, WWF Russia and “Land of the Leopard” National Park.
“Thirty years ago I saw the Amur leopard for the first time in my life. Back then I and a few researchers, who were fighting for its conservation, could be counted with fingers of one hand. And today, the national park and “The Far Eastern leopards” Center has been established. But what is more important, the great army of local young activists has grown up and ready to help their spotted neighbor to survive. So the future of the rarest cats is in good hands,” - said Vasily Solkin, head of Public Relations of WWF Russia Amur branch at the opening ceremony in Slavyanka.
In 2003 this festival was for the first time organized by the initiative of WWF-Russia in Khasansky district. It became one of the most significant events of WWF campaign “Save each of the survivors” helping to preserve the rare cat and to create a united protected area along with conducting leopard surveys, anti-poaching activities and fighting forest fires.
Today, Leopard Festival is the official holiday in Khasansky and Nadezhdinsky districts of Primorsky Province. During school year children learn about leopards living near their villages, get acquainted with the peculiarities of “Land of the Leopard” National Park created in 2012, watch documentary films about the leopard, hold contests and quizzes, prepare souvenirs and performances. And once a year, on the Leopard Festival, coming together to demonstrate their talents and show to the world that leopard has real friends.
This year in Slavyanka the Festival is organized under the slogan “Fair of talents of Land of the Leopard”. 16 school teams of Khasansky and 3 from Nadezhdinsky districts not only performed on the stage, but also presented souvenirs with their parents and teachers on the main square of the village. At this fair all products have been collected and made with kids own hands: bakery, gifts, handicrafts and many other beautiful and unique products. The jury examined 41 table. By the end of the fair 5 most active and talented teams from villages of Kraskino, Khasan, Olenevod, and school №1 and №2 of Slavyanka, were awarded with a trip to Vladivostok to participate in Tiger Day.
“Every year on Leopard Festival we are launching a new phase of environmental work at schools. This academic year, the guys will explore “Land of the Leopard” National Park ecotrails, celebrate New Year with Leopard, prepare new presentations for the final environmental rally in April, - said Natalia Volvach, chief specialist of the Department of Education of Khasansky district, the organizer of the festival in Slavyanka. – And what is completely new, we plan to open three ecological clubs “Friends of the leopard” in the schools in Khasan, Zarubino and school №2 of Barabash with the help of ANO «Far Eastern leopards» and WWF-Russia. They will be equipped with the latest multimedia technology and, of course, will become centers of environmental work”.
On September 21 in the village of Volno-Nadezhdinskoye 12 school teams participated in Leopard Festival, organized by the Department of Education of Nadezhdinsky district and WWF Russia. Kedrovka leopardess, the star of “Spotted family” reality show, and Shufansky leopard became the main heroes of the holiday. WWF branded nature protection brigades of Nezhino, Olenevod and Terekhovka settlements performed their shows on the stage. Touching moment of celebration was the launch of balloons with messages and wishes to the leopard, which were written by each team. Participants received «Forest for Life» T-shirts as WWF gift.
“I advised young activists to take real-life example not only with parents and teachers, but also with the leopard: be smart, nimble, quick-witted and kind to each other - said Andrey Fereferov, coordinator of projects on the Land of the Leopard of WWF Russia Amur branch, speaking to the children in the village of Volno-Nadezhdinskoye. And once again reminded of three important things: do not throw garbage anywhere, take care of trees, do not set fire on dry grass in fire dangerous periods.
“These protective measures will allow more efficient use of the resources that WWF provides for fire-fighting brigades of southwest Primorye. This year they received 3 generators, 3 pumps, 6 «Husqvarna -356» wind blowers, 20 «Kenwood» radio stations, 5 megaphones, 2 scrub clearers, field uniform, safety products and fuel,' - says Fereferov.
Saving big cats is a common concern of all residents of Primorye. Leopard Festival gives the opportunity to local residents to 'vote” for the leopard, to be proud of being neighbors with the rarest spotted cat in the world, to respect the nature and take responsibility for its conservation.