Tragedy in Khasanskii district of Primorskii Province: a leopardess was killed
On 19 April, Evgeny Stoma, the inspector of Special Inspection “Tiger”, received anonymous information about dead leopard. Immediately, officers of Rosselkhoznadzor operative brigade and Khasanskii district department of internal affairs started investigation. Next day, on 20 April, the body of the wild cat was found 3 kilometers far from Bamburovo village within the watershed of Alimovka River on the territory of “Barsovy” wildlife refuge of federal level.
On 21 April, John Lewis and Claudia Schoene, veterinarians and coordinators of Amur Leopard & Wildlife Health Project, Zoological Society of London, examined the animal. The examination procedure was performed in “Nezhinskoye” hunting estate, where the Project is carried out by the Institute of Biology and Soils of FEB RAS and WCS specialists. The results of examination showed that the killed was a 35 kilograms mature female leopard. The shot was made from the back side: the bullet came through tail bone, crashed hipbones and stuck in the belly. The animal fell down onto back paws, and after that she was beaten to death by a heavy thing on the head. It happened 6-7 days ago – on 15-16 April.
Pavel Fomenko, WWF-Russia Far Eastern Branch, Biodiversity Conservation Program Coordinator:
- Comparing two animal species: tiger and leopard, the last is an absolutely harmless and vulnerable predator. Leopard murder could be only provoked by cowardice or stupidity, in our case, most likely, by both. But these are just emotions… In fact, this murder is the result of long-running mindless administrative reforms for state nature conservation bodies in Russia. Over last three years, “Barsovy” wildlife refuge of federal level, where the leopard was killed, has no real owner, appropriate protection system and administrative staff. Moreover, all necessary documents on establishing protected area of federal level to preserve the rarest cat of the planet are stuck in the offices of Moscow bureaucrats, covered with three-year dust.
Sergey Khokhryakov, WWF-Russia Far Eastern Branch, Far Eastern Leopard Conservation Projects Coordinator:
- After winter census, we had a weak hope that 7 female leopards are left in the wild, and four of them bringing up their cubs. And again, Bamburovskii military training area – the third (!) leopard killed within this area over the last five years.
Vasily Solkin, Coordinator of the NPO’s project “Save the Last Ones”:
- Last autumn, in framework of Amur Leopard & Wildlife Health Project, two male leopards were examined successfully. This is the third one examined, but this time post-mortem. Preliminary analysis showed, that the character of spots on the body of killed leopardess does not coincide with the animals known from the camera traps monitoring in the southern sector. In this case, there is a hope, that females we know from camera trap monitoring are still alive. But this is just a weak consolation…
Vitaly Starostin, deputy chief of Special Inspection “Tiger”:
- We feel deep regret that leopard was killed. It’s being a female is making it even worse. Most likely, the person who killed is of a kind the recent murderer in America, who killed 32 innocent people. In our case he is also a terrorist, and the punishment should be appropriate, same as for terrorists. Leopard is a “peaceful” predator. To kill one, it’s even silly to demonstrate courage. Until the government stops all the reforming experiments on nature protection system, when it is not clear what structure is responsible for protection and conservation, tigers and leopards will be killed again and again.