The “Land of the Leopard” National Park and the National Institute of Ecology of the Republic of Korea will join forces to research and conserve the Far Eastern leopard, with one of the goals being returning the world's rarest large cat to the Korean Peninsula. In the year of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and the Republic of Korea, the organizations signed a letter of intent.
The document is intended to ensure joint scientific activities for the conservation of biodiversity in North-East Asia. An international group of specialists has already been formed, which will work to assess potential leopard habitats in Russia and Korea, as well as to study the DNA of the rare cats using modern technologies.
The signing of the protocol by the leaders of the “Land of the Leopard” and the Institute took place during an online meeting.
"The signing of the agreement, even in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, was an important act of strengthening cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Korea. The document creates a reliable basis for the exchange of research between major environmental institutions of the two countries. I have no doubt that our common work will be an important step to preserve priceless nature," said the President of the National Institute of Ecology of the Republic of Korea, Yong Mok Park.
"The ‘Land of the Leopard’ National Park has been successfully fulfilling its mission for eight years. During this period, the population of the Far Eastern leopard has grown and a huge amount of scientific data about the subspecies has been collected, in particular thanks to the largest photomonitoring network in Russia," said the Director of the “Land of the Leopard” Federal State Budgetary Institution, Viktor Bardyuk. “This is a valuable experience that needs to be shared with colleagues. In turn, the National Institute of Ecology makes an invaluable contribution to the conservation and study of wildlife. By joining forces, we can do a lot for unique animals."
We would like to remind you that by the beginning of the 21st century, the leopard had completely disappeared from the Korean Peninsula, and only about 35 specimens remained in Primorye. Thanks to the creation of the “Land of the Leopard” National Park, the critical figure was surpassed. According to the latest census, 97 adult leopards were recorded in the southwest of Primorsky Krai. Leopards are already spotted on the border between Russia and North Korea. Scientists are also considering the possibility of reintroducing the leopard to Korea by releasing trained specimens from zoos.
Specialists of the National Institute of Ecology, one of the largest scientific institutions in South Korea, have been cooperating with the “Land of the Leopard” for several years to study the Russian experience of successful restoration of the rare species. The proposal of the director of the “Land of the Leopard”, Viktor Bardyuk, to implement a new joint project “Study of the possibility of restoring the population of the Far Eastern leopard” was supported in November 2019, at a meeting of the Russian-Korean Committee for Cooperation in the Field of Environmental Protection.