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KKHOSTA AND LEO STAY CLOSE. LAURA HUNTS ROE DEER

21 september 2022
Leopards released in July 2022 in North Ossetia have almost get used to the Turmonskiy Forestry. Analysis of monitoring data allows us to hope for their successful adaptation to life in the wild

According to the data obtained from collars with transmitters, it can be concluded that leopards are gradually forming habitats with core zones (places where the animal is most likely to meet).

Now the habitat areas of the three leopards coincide by more than 50%. At the same time, the core zones of the Khosta's and Laura's sites do not intersect, but Khosta's and Leo's coincide by more than 75%.

Habitat areas of three leopards 60 days after the release.

Habitat areas of three leopards 60 days after the release (green - Khosta, blue - Laura, Red - Leo))

Area usage within 2 months

Laura. Laura has mastered an area of 161.3 sq. km (according to 826 locations obtained from the collar) and is still expanding the boundaries of her site. The core zone of her site is already well formed, which indicates that she has decided on a comfort zone. Laura has studied these places very well and periodically returns to them. This part of her site is located at an altitude of at least 1000 m above sea level with the highest point of 2964 m above sea level.

Khosta. Khosta's habitat area covers an area of 150.8 sq. km (according to 854 locations obtained from the collar). As with Laura, her site is still expanding and still forming, but it concerns both the core zone and the outer space. Most of the core zone of her site is located below 1000 m above sea level.

Leo. Leo has the largest habitat area, which is typical for males. In terms of area, it is more than twice as extensive as the female sites and occupies 370.7 sq. km (according to 854 locations obtained from the collar). His site is also not yet fully formed, but the core comfort zone is clearly defined. Leo, like Khosta, prefers heights below 1000 m above sea level.

Navigation

In two months of living in the wild, each of the leopards covered a distance of about 220 km (Laura – 220 km, Khosta – 227.6 km, Leo – 216 km).
Terrain profile of the trajectory of three leopards for 2 months after release

Hunting behavior and nutrition

Released leopards successfully hunt species habitual to them. Each of them has hunted for and eaten at least 7 preys in 57 days since the release. When experts received the data confirming that the leopard had left the prey eating site, they checked the sites in mountain conditions. The following animal species were found as the main components of the leopard diet: badgers, foxes, raccoon dogs, jackals, roe deer and red deer. Leo hunted the latter, too. The female Laura confidently specializes in smaller hoofed animals (roe deer). The diet of the female Khosta is dominated by small predators (badgers, raccoon dogs, jackals, foxes). The female Laura disposes of her prey the most completely. She is not lazy to travel the longest distances in search of roe deer, unlike Khosta and Leo, who more carefully in search of victims. The longest breaks between hunts were noted with the female Khosta.

"Such outstanding data was collected thanks to the optimal choice of GPS/GSM collars, which are made on the basis of the A. N. Severtsov Insitute of Ecology and Evolution, and the professionalism of zoologists from the field group, who have already checked more than 20 clusters in difficult mountain conditions," - explains Natalia Dronova, Chief Project Coordinator for the conservation of rare animal species of WWF-Russia. - "Consistent monitoring is very important for the Program, so I would like to thank our supporters for their support." 

The Persian Leopard Reintroduction Program in the Caucasus was developed by WWF-Russia and experts of the A. N. Severtsov Insitute of Ecology and Evolution in 2005.

The Persian leopard reintroduction program is implemented by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 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).

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