THE THIRD LEOPARD RELEASE TOOK PLACE IN NORTH OSSETIA
This release is already the third of its kind for the Republic of North Ossetia. Elbrus and Volna were delivered to the National Park "Alania" in 2018, Baksan and Agura were released in the Turmonskiy Sanctuary in 2020. On July 16, 2022, their brother and sisters, male Leo and females Khosta and Laura, left the platform installed exactly in the same place.
The graduation ceremony was attended by Alexander
Kozlov, the Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian
Federation, Sergey Menyailo, the Head of the Republic, Vitaliy Kokoev, the
Minister of Natural Resources of the Republic, Dmitriy Gorshkov, the Director
of WWF-Russia, and other honored guests.
"Leopards have always
been an integral part of Ossetian nature and epic literature. We hope that
these majestic predators will return to their historical habitat in the
Republic," says Dmitry Gorshkov, Director of WWF-Russia.
– Now, after the latest release, two
males and three females live in Ossetia. Therefore, we hope that they will
definitely form couples and finally the first kittens will be born in the wild.
In addition, do not forget that a female Volna lives very close to
Kabardino-Balkaria and a wild male has been wintering for the second year.
Therefore, there are more and more chances for the formation of couples in this
part of the Caucasus."
A month ago, the leopards have successfully passed the exams at the Sochi Leopard Breeding Center in the Caucasus. Experts checked the readiness of predators for independent life in the wild, their ability to hunt properly, and also made sure of the reaction of avoiding humans and livestock. Now the Red Data Book predators will have to adapt to the territory of their new "habitat".
Leopards were promptly delivered by helicopter in special cages from the Center to the place of release to the Kularduzhskiy clearing. Releases of predators are carried out within the framework of the Persian Leopard Reintroduction Program in the Caucasus, developed by WWF-Russia and the A. N. Severtsov Insitute of Ecology and Evolution in 2007.
WWF-Russia also handed over camera traps to the Sanctuary, which were installed in the leopard release area to monitor the animals, observe their migration and settling in on the territory.
REPORT ON PREPARATION:
Before being released into nature, the animals undergo two years of training and pass exams. Kittens learn to hunt and survive in the wild on their own from an early age. All this takes place in the Leopard Breeding Center in the Caucasus, built in 2009 on the territory of the Sochi National Park with the support of WWF-Russia.
In April 2022, specialists from the A. N. Severtsov Insitute of Ecology and Evolution, the Institute of Ecology of Mountain Territories, the Moscow Zoo and WWF assessed their ability to hunt, avoid humans and livestock, physical condition and social competence when interacting with relatives. After successfully passing all the tests, satellite collars were put on the leopards for further monitoring of movements, as well as obtaining information about successful hunting and adaptation.
The Persian leopard disappeared from the wild nature of the Caucasus in the 1950s. As a result of poaching, the extermination of predators and their food supply, not a single leopard remained in the territory of the Russian Caucasus. Since then, no cases of cubs being born in the wild have been recorded.
In order to restore the symbol of the wildlife of the Caucasus within its historical habitat, experts from WWF and the Russian Academy of Sciences have developed a program for the restoration of the Persian leopard in the Caucasus by breeding it in captivity and subsequent reintroduction.
• 2005 - WWF-Russia and the A. N. Severtsov Insitute of Ecology and Evolution developed the Persian leopard reintroduction program in the Caucasus
• 2007 - The program was approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian Federation.
• 2007-2009 – The Leopard Breeding Center in the Caucasus was built (in the Sochi National Park). The area of the Center is 12 hectares
• July 15, 2016 – The first release of 3 leopards into the wild on the territory of the Caucasus Reserve
• 2018 – Release of 2 leopards in North Ossetia and 1 in the Caucasus Reserve
• 2020 - Release of 2 leopards in North Ossetia and 2 in the Caucasus Reserve
Currently, Agura and Baksan, released in 2020, presumably live on the territory of North Ossetia. The female Volna, released in 2018, settled in Kabardino-Balkaria.
The Persian leopard reintroduction program is implemented by the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation with the participation of the Sochi National Park, Caucasus Reserve, WWF-Russia, the A. N. Severtsov Insitute of Ecology and Evolution, the Institute of Ecology of Mountain Territories, and Moscow zoo, as well as with the assistance of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).