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Премия рунета 2017

Leopard named Artek is released into the wild of Caucasus

31 august 2018
A male Persian leopard Artek was released today into the wild on the territory of the Caucasus nature reserve. A special transport cage with the leopard was taken by helicopter to the Akhzarkhva mountain ridge, which hosted the first release of the three leopards in July 2016.
A special wooden platform for the leopard release was constructed on the mountain. After the team of specialists landed, the gate of the cage was opened and Artek got out into his natural habitat, where his predecessors used to live, but were brought to extinction by humans.
At the same time WWF Russia’s monitoring group of field observers went on to inspect the area around the Artek’s release, to check the camera traps and to examine the prey base in the area.
Previously, Artek successfully passed the "exam" in the Persian Leopard Breeding and Rehabilitation Centre at Sochi National Park, passed the test for the ability to hunt, as well as the natural fear and desire to avoid humans.

The main aim of releasing Artek, considering the absence of female animals in the area, is the further advanced research of the territory allocation between animals, - says Igor Chestin, WWF Russia director. – One of the male leopards, named Akhun, had  thrown off the collar almost immediately after the release, therefore  it was possible to observe just two animals during  2016-17 and after that the collars stopped operating.  At the moment we are expecting to receive additional data on the territory exploitation by Artek in 2018-19, which will let us improve next releases’ arrangements and to advance the camera traps placing on the territory.

Artek was released to the same area where 2 leopards, named Killi and Akhun live. They were released two years ago.
Persian leopard
© Sergey Trepet / WWF-Russia

The leopard was already wearing a satellite collar during the his examination, which will allow scientists to monitor its movements. The collar will operate for a year, then reset automatically. 

«This release will be another difficult challenge for Artek, as winter is coming and the leopard will need to adapt quickly for a life in the wild and prepare for the cold period. Of course, it will not be easy, but we hope that Artek will cope with all the difficulties, adapt in the region and safely survive the winter period, - says Sergey Trepet, research officer the Caucasian biosphere reserve. - Despite the fact that it is already a third release of leopards in the Caucasus for me, I’m full of unrest every time.Because on the one hand it’s a big step forward  for the animal, entering the path of independent life, and on the other – our responsibility towards  nature, which we are trying to return the biodiversity that was once lost».

Artek is one of the five kittens that were born in 2016 at the Persian Leopard Breeding and Rehabilitation Centre. Its sister Volna (Wave) with male Elbrus was already released into wild in North Ossetia on the territory of the National Park Alania a month ago.

Artek is one of the five kittens that were born in 2016 at the Persian Leopard Breeding and Rehabilitation Centre. Its sister Volna (Wave) with male Elbrus was already released into wild in North Ossetia on the territory of the National Park Alania a month ago.

The Program is implemented by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation with the participation of the Sochi National Park, Caucasus (Kavkazsky) State Nature Biosphere Reserve, A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Moscow Zoo and WWF-Russia, and supported by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). In North Ossetia the rehabilitation program is funded by RusHydro.

For more information please contacts WWF Russia’s press-office: press@wwf.ru, +7 495 727-09-39

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