VETERINARS DETERMINED THE GENDER OF FIVE LEOPARD CUBS
The veterinary examination showed that leopard Cherry bore 2 females and 1 male, while there were 1 female and 1 male in Andrea’s litter. At the moment the cubs feel well, having no external signs of any disease, and their weight corresponds to their age norm.
"Taking into account the goals of the Persian Leopard Recovery program, we hope that the cubs will successfully master the skills necessary for independent life in the natural environment, so that in two years they would be ready to be released into the wild nature of Caucasus," - comments Natalia Dronova, coordinator of WWF-Russia projects on rare species conservation.
This is the world's first experience of the leopard reintroduction, the returning of animals to the places they inhabited before. Until the middle of the 20th century, leopards were widely distributed in the Caucasus and occupied almost all mountain areas. However, by the 1950s, their number declined sharply, while in many areas the species was completely exterminated by humans.
Nowadays rare individuals inhabit Dagestan, North Ossetia-Alania, Chechnya and Ingushetia, and they are not enough to be fully restored. Therefore, the reintroduction program was developed.
For the first time leopards were released in the Caucasus Biosphere Reserve in July 2016. The second release took place recently, at the end of July 2018. All the animals were born and raised in the Leopard Recovery Center, as close to the wild nature conditions as possible, where contacts with people were minimized.
The program for the leopard restoration in the Caucasus was developed by WWF Russia experts in cooperation with the scientists from A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2005. In 2007, the program was approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, while since 2009 it has been personally supported by Vladimir Putin.
A special center was built near Sochi to breed and prepare the animals for independent life. Then three leopard males and three females were brought there. 19 kittens were born from different pairs in the center in total.
The Persian Leopard Recovery program in the Caucasus is being implemented by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Russia with the participation of the Sochi National Park, the Caucasus Nature Reserve, A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of RAN, the Moscow Zoo and WWF-Russia, with the assistance of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).