Buffer zone for the Land of Leopard National Park
for the Year of Environment declared by the Russian President.
Borders and regime of the buffer zone covering 82 000 hectares of Amur tiger and Amur leopard habitats in three adjacent to the Park districts are defined by the Decree.
«The Decree has finished up the formation of protected area network for the Amur leopard, says Yury Darman, head of WWF Russia Amur branch, PhD. In fact, 360 000 hectares of the rare cat’s habitats are being now protected under different regimes i.e. all territories mentioned in the report presented by Sergey Ivanov on the meeting of the Russian Geographical Society in 2010».
What does the National Park need the buffer zone for? The Park borders with hunting societies territories where hunt is being done, with forestry units leases areas where logging is being conducted. But there are no borders for animals. Therefore, a buffer zone with special protected regime will mitigate the impact of human activities on rare predators and their prey, hoofed animals.
In 2001, when the idea of establishing a unified protected area for Amur leopard conservation was being shaped WWF Russia insisted on the necessity of introducing a special regime in hunting societies territories located in leopard’s habitats. WWF Russia negotiated and agreed with each land user the buffer zone’s border on the stage of documents preparation.
The buffer zone has been created without removal of land from owners and users but its protective regime restricts their activities thus creating more favorable conditions for leopard survival. For example,
- Collective hunt will be done only under authorization of specially trained hunter responsible for the whole hunting process.
- Dogs will be forbidden in the buffer zone.
- Hunt for fur animals and hazel grouse is allowed from October 1 till January 15 without the use of traps and self-activated traps.
- Each game user should take ungulates recovery measures like fixing supplementary feeding grounds, planting different crops, helping ungulates to survive in high snow. As roe and sika deers, wild boars are tiger and leopard’s main prey these measures will maintain ungulates number at a level sufficient both for hunters and rare wild cats.
Control over the buffer zone regime observance will be done during joints raids of the Primorsky Province Hunting Department, Land of Leopard National Park, and hunting societies.
It is important that from now on inspectors of the National Park can exercise powers in the buffer zone on a legal basis.
«The special regime does not reach villages, farms, and horticulture societies. It means that no one’s rights were disturbed. Control will be enforced in the forest helping leopard, tiger, and ungulates to survive, adds Yury Darman.