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24 november 2021
Thanks to the camera traps, it was possible to find the owner of the recently discovered tracks in Kabardino-Balkaria and confirm the assumptions that they belong to a leopard. Moreover, the Red Data Book predator is completely wild and is not a "graduate" of the Leopard Breeding Center.

The search for the leopard began after traces of a large cat were found in the National Park "Prielbrusye" in early November in 2021. A footprint of at least 10 cm in length gave reason to believe that a Persian leopard lives in the Republic.

Not far from the place where the traces were found, camera traps were installed. Thanks to them, it was possible to catch a Red Data Book predator walking along a mountain road in the camera lens. It turned out to be an adult male, not related to the animals released earlier, within the framework of the Persian leopard reintroduction program  in the Caucasus. The experts from A. N. Severtsov Insitute of Ecology and Evolution compared the drawing on the animal's skin with the passports of predators already released and stated that this leopard is from the wild.

Experts do not exclude that the presence of females could attract him to the Central Caucasus. To recap, the female Volna, released in North Ossetia in 2018, was spotted in Kabardino-Balkaria a year ago, where her collar was found a little earlier. As for her sister, the female Agura, she has successfully settled in North Ossetia and continues to live there.

"The fact that individuals from border territories enter the Russian Caucasus is great news. Firs of all, it gives the probability of the formation of couples in the wild and the birth of kittens. And, secondly, it increases the efficiency of the Persian leopard reintroduction program in the Caucasus," – says Valeriy Shmunk, Director of Russian Caucasus Ecoregional Office WWF-Russia. –There were cases when our leopards also crossed the border and descended far to the south to our neighbors in South Caucasus. There are no state borders for animals, the leopard's habitat is huge. And we set our main objective to repopulate leopards in their habitat, where they have always lived and been an integral part. The Russian Caucasus is just such a place."

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).  Monitoring of Persian leopards in the Caucasus is conducted with the financial support of VTB Bank. The Persian leopard reintroduction program in North Ossetia is funded by RusHydro.
For additional information please contact
Head of Caucasus Ecoregional Office