Children from Russia and China celebrated Leopard Festival
Last weekend the southwestern Primorye, the home of the rarest cat on the planet, hosted Leopard Festival. Students of 17 eco clubs from schools of Nadezhdinsky and Khasansky districts united in public movement of the leopard “guardians” gathered on the central square of Slavyanka. The children with their parents from neighboring Wangqing county of Jilin Province of China specially arrived for the big celebration.
“Like many people in Khasansky district whose villages are located next to “Land of the Leopard” National Park, our guests from China are perfectly aware of tigers and leopards and live in protected area of Wangqing Reserve” - says Svetlana Titova, program coordinator for protected areas at WWF-Russia Amur branch. - More than 10 years the students of Khasansky and Nadezhdinsky districts of Primorsky Province are working hard to educate local people about the problems of Amur leopard population as a part of WWF program “Save the leopard together!”. The most important for the rare cat conservation is to preserve its habitat. Making friends children from two countries, information about the system of protected areas, about leopard protection will help to engage the students of Russia and China in environmental projects.”
According to the latest data, about 70 rare cats are estimated to live in Russia. However, thanks to the collaboration of scientists from Russia and China, this summer, for the first time, the Amur leopard population numbers in the world were received, estimating no less than 80 individuals. This became known after the exchange of camera trap data of two countries. It also became clear that a significant number of cats have “double citizenship”, being registered on protected areas both in Russia and China. Thus, the participants of the “Leopard Guardians” Festival had a great reason for celebration!
“As you know, before the National Park was established, the Amur leopard was on the brink of extinction, but after three years of park’s functioning, its numbers has increased significantly, - says Zilya Ibatullina, deputy director of tourism and ecological education of “Land of the Leopard” National Park. - We believe that together with people who protect leopard on duty, children and their parents also contribute to its population growth.”
Festival “Leopard Guardians” was opened with a costumed carnival on the central square of Slavyanka. Bright theatrical performances of children, craft and gift trade fair, leopard makeup, trainings and master classes for everybody were part of the Festival program. The delegation of kids from China thanked the Land of the Leopard for warm hospitality.
“We invited the families from Wangqing county of Jilin Province to participate in the Festival, who have long been engaged in forests protection, - said Li Qian, program coordinator at WWF China North East office. - To save tigers and leopards in China we are focusing on three main directions: first, the creation of nature reserves; second, the monitoring of these rare animals; and third, we try to provide them with pray base by introduction hoofed animals to protected areas”.
A large-scale flashmob became a colorful finale of the “Leopard Guardians” Festival. Hundreds of children with orange, black and white balloons lined up in the shape of a leopard.
Leopard Festival is celebrated since 2003 in Khasansky district and since 2008 in Nadezhdinsky. The organizers of the Festival are WWF Russia, Department of Education Nadezhdinsky and Khasansky district, “Land of the Leopard” National Park and ANO “Far Eastern leopards”.