LEOPARDS, SIX WEEKS AFTER RELEASE
Movement and activity:
In the Caucasus Reserve, female Laba has travelled 138 km since her release, and over the past month, she has travelled 56 km. However, she is very careful and she has never moved away from the release place more than 6.5 km since August 20. In total, she covered no more than 25 square kilometres. The maximum height that the young leopardess conquered in the Caucasian Reserve is 2,761 m. Unfortunately, the satellite collar of the male Kodor - released with her - stopped transmitting information a month ago. It is hoped that the animal is all right, and it is just a problem with the collar, or the data transmission unit was damaged in the fight with the prey. In the near future, a specially equipped field team is moving to search for the leopard or his collar in the region where his beacon signal is heard.
The animals released in North Ossetia have been kept in the vast forest area where the Turmonskiy Sanctuary is located. Female Agura has travelled 168 km since the release, including 121 km over the past month. However, like Laba, she is very careful and does not move too far from the place of release – the maximum distance to which she moved away from it is 20.5 km, she didn’t attempt to conquer the peaks and preferred to stay no higher than 1100 meters above sea level. However, she has developed a vast area in the green valley zone, the area of which is currently 224 square kilometers. Baksan is much more active than Agura in his desire to explore unknown territories. Since the release, he has covered 263 km, of which 190 km was covered in September. The area that Baksan developed after release is 314.6 square kilometers. At the same time, he periodically returns to the place of release and has never moved further than 16.5 km away from it.
All leopards are currently located on the territory of the protected areas where they were released. Only Baksan twice went beyond the borders of the Turmonskiy Reserve, but did not move more than 1.5 km from its borders. Once he was captured by a video camera from a car when he was running across the road.
During September, the animals successfully hunted by their own. Over the past month, Laba, as it was registered, had three hunts in the Caucasian Reserve. During a field check, experts confirmed the remains of two chamois and one deer. There is no information about Kodor's huntings, due to the mentioned problem with the collar. Three ofAgura’s hunts have been recorded in North Ossetia. Her prey was a raccoon dog and two fat badgers. Baksan also captured two raccoon dogs, a badger, and one feral dog that roamed the woodlands.
For the entire period passed, there have never been any interactions between released leopards with each other. The average distance that Agura prefers to steer clear of Baksan is about 18.5 km.
Released into the wild, the Persian leopards raised at the Sochi Leopard Reintroduction Center are only the first steps towards creating a new population. There should be at least 50 leopards in the North Caucasus. All animals are specially tested, they are able to hunt wild hoofed animals and avoid humans and livestock.
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 Сonservation of Nature (IUCN) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). VTB Bank provides financial support for monitoring the Persian leopard in the Caucasus.