Russia And China Created World's First Cross-Border Reserve For Leopard And Tiger

The Far Eastern leopard. Photo: Land of the Leopard National Park
The Far Eastern leopard. Photo: Land of the Leopard National Park

The world's first cross-border protected natural area for the conservation of wild Far Eastern leopards has been created near the borders of China and Russia. The agreement between the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China on the creation of the Land of Big Cats Reserve was signed by the heads of relevant departments of the two countries during Vladimir Putin's visit to Beijing.

The new reserve includes the territories of two Russian protected areas: Land of the Leopard National Park and the Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve, as well as Northeast Tiger and Leopard National Park of China. The corresponding agreement was signed by the head of the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia Alexander Kozlov and the head of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration of the People's Republic of China Guan Zhiou. The ceremony took place in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on May 16.

The agreement provides for the development of scientific cooperation and the exchange of animal observation data in the wild. Another important element will be to increase the effectiveness of protecting protected areas from poachers and forest fires. In addition, the development of eco-education and ecotourism is expected in the Land of Big Cats.

“Work on the creation of a cross-border reserve has been going on for more than 10 years. The agreement marks a new milestone in environmental cooperation between the two countries,” said Alexander Kozlov. “The primary tasks will be the unification of animal counting methods and the establishment of joined photomonitoring.”

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Amur tiger. Photo: Land of the Leopard National Park
Amur tiger. Photo: Land of the Leopard National Park

According to the Russian minister, 58 tigers and 129 leopards now live in Land of the Leopard and Kedrovaya Pad. The Chinese side says they have 60 leopards and 40 tigers. But wildcats constantly cross the border, which makes it difficult to keep track. The joint work of Russian and Chinese biologists will make it possible to accurately determine the total number of the world population of the Far Eastern leopard and the Amur tiger aggregation.

Land of the Leopard National Park in Russia, established in 2012, houses the core of the world's only population of the Far Eastern leopard, one of the rarest animals, and also has the highest number of Amur tigers on the planet. Thanks to environmental work in Russia, populations have tripled, and over time they began to settle in the neighboring provinces of China: Jilin and Heilongjiang. In 2017, a national park was created on the adjacent territory of China, which has a 280-kilometer border with  Land of the Leopard.

The boundaries of the natural territories included in the reserve will remain unchanged. First of all, we are talking about the comprehensive unification of the efforts of specialists from the two countries for the joint conservation of Red Book cats.

“Russian specialists stand out for their masterful skills in field work with camera traps, and our inspectors at international competitions have repeatedly shown an outstanding level in the fight against poachers,” said Viktor Bardyuk, director of the Federal State Budgetary Institution "Land of the Leopard". “At the same time, the Chinese side is widely known for high-tech solutions in the field of photomonitoring and analysis of scientific data. Combining our experience will give a synergy effect and will undoubtedly benefit the cause of leopard conservation.”