The Amur leopard family: reality show
Using camera traps for the Amur leopards’ identification based on the individual skin patterns has become commonplace nowadays. The project on photo monitoring has been running for more than ten years. And thanks to their “portfolio” many Amur leopards have become movie stars in Russia and far beyond its borders.
But a picture is only one moment captured on film when the researchers always want to know much more – to evidence the secrets of leopards’ behavior. The Amur leopard is one of the shiest animals on Earth. For example, practically nothing is known how the litter is raised.
Therefore, in November 2013, upon getting the news that the leopard female named Kedrovka has once again given birth to three cubs – and this is very rare –a new joint project was started – the unique project on VIDEO monitoring!
«Video monitoring is a breakthrough both for the Russian and international science. Video monitoring of the rarest cat on Earth is the most unique achievement, notes Andrey Borodin, head of Land of the Leopard National Park. The Park administration set camera traps with video option in late October and already in early November we got first footage of a female with three kittens! Thanks to the new methods we have got a chance to study the leopard’s behavioral characteristics with no interference into their life which was impossible until recently. A video series is only the first step on the way to lift the veil of secrecy of the life of a spotted family available absolutely for everyone and not only for scientists».
More than 70 hours of unique footage of real life of a large leopard family was obtained for the first time ever, thanks to ten automatic camera traps placed carefully by specialists of the National Park at the right time and in the right place. It took more than a month for WWF experts to compile footage from different cameras and show the big picture assembled from these “puzzles”.
The quality of video, of course, leaves much to be desired. But it is still good enough both to spot an adult leopard and a cub, and even to distinguish the cubs by the skin pattern. At present seven series of the project about the family history are in production. But the authors are confident the project is to be continued.
«This project is a farewell to an epoch in which shooting a leopard in the wild have been quite a heroic act of an operator freezing in winter nights waiting in ambush near the bait, comments Vasily Solkin, head of WWF Russia Amur branch PR department, the filmmaker, the author of seven documentaries about Amur leopard.
«But in fact, I am glad not because I and my heroic colleagues will no longer have to freeze “sitting on a tree branch”. I am glad to the fact that without a cameraman, due to automatic cameras we can see animals as they are in their absolutely natural behavior, what is impossible to achieve with a cameraman nearby. While analyzing video footage obtained for the first month of the project, I learned about Amur leopard more than in previous twenty years!»
We will show you what none has ever seen before on Planet Earth. We will show you what even those who dedicated their life to study leopard have never seen before. This is a real life of a real large family of Amur leopards and unvarnished taiga environment without any special effects.
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