Three dozen photomonitoring stations will soon start filming Amur leopards in the Ussuriysky Reserve. The first five monitoring station already appeared in January near the village of Alekseevka. They will monitor potential migration corridors of the rare predator, the presence of which in the area was first noted in the 21st century at the end of last year.
Before the New Year holidays, the Amur leopard was photographed by several camera traps in the Severnaya Hunting Reserve in Nadezhdinsky District of Primorsky Krai. Representatives of this subspecies had not been seen here for about 50 years. The animal moved away from its typical habitats for more than 40 kilometers, crossed the Trans-Siberian Railway and the valley of the Razdolnaya River, which is actively developed by people.
Scientists checked the unique pattern of spots on the hide of the "newcomer", and it turned out that this specimen had not been previously captured by the camera traps. A large male in good physical shape traditionally received his own number, and then the nickname – Casanova.
This "dash to the east" gave hope for the possibility of natural migration of the rare cats from Land of the Leopard National Park. It prompted scientists to update information about the presence of the predator in the area and start creating a photomonitoring network in the Ussuriysky Reserve, which will consist of 30 stations – 60 motion activated camera traps. As the main method for studying felines, winter route registration had been previously used here, which provides less reliable data.
The project is being implemented by specialists from Land of the Leopard Federal State Budgetary Institution with the support of Far Eastern Leopards Autonomous Non-profit Organization. The network should appear in the reserve before the end of this year. It will monitor not only migratory specimens, but also feral cats that will be placed here as part of the reintroduction program.
The Far Eastern leopard reintroduction program will start in 2023 as part of a tripartite agreement between Land of the Leopard Federal State Budgetary Institution, Far Eastern Leopards Autonomous Non-profit Organization and the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences. It is planned to catch several specimens in Land of the Leopard National Park and relocate them to the territory of the Ussuriysky Reserve. This will expand the range of the rare predator and provide more opportunities for population growth.