Amazing new pictures show a endangered Amur leopard with a cub.
It is likely there are only 50 Amur leopards in existence in their natural habitat in Russia. Picture: Land of Leopard
There is quiet optimism that leopard, native to the Far East of Russia, is making a recovery from the brink of extinction. Picture of a well-formed cub with an adult, probably its mother, was released by the Land of the Leopard National Park.
Deputy director of science and environmental education in the park, Elena Salmanova hailed the new images. 'The presence of cats suggests that the population is multiplying, and that the efforts being made by scientists and environmentalists are giving results,' she said.
A fuller 'census' of leopards in the national park will be carried out by scientists in the winter - using their footsteps in the snow. It is hoped then to determine exactly how many leopard cubs were born in Primorskiy Region this year.
It is likely there are only 50 Amur leopards in existence in their natural habitat in Russia.
Deputy director of science and environmental education in the park, Elena Salmanova hailed the new images. 'The presence of cats (the leopard cub is on the right) suggests that the population is multiplying, and that the efforts being made by scientists and environmentalists are giving results,' she said. Pictures: Land of the Leopard National Park
In 2007 no more than 35 animals were known to exist. But the population remains desperately vulnerable, especially to illegal poachers. Another leopard in the newly-released set of pictures shows a male marking out its territory.
Camera posts in the park allow wildlife experts a unique view of the creatures, permitting a monitoring of their survival, and even facial recognition of each animal. The cameras can operate for six months on the same batteries and allow for night time pictures.
The park is one of a number of initiatives to guarantee the survival of the leopard, which is also found in China and North Korea. The head of the Russian Presidential Administration, Sergei Ivanov, in charge of the campaign to save the leopard, visited the construction site of a tunnel under a highway - being built to allow the leopards to safely move around their habitat.
Narvinsky tunnel is being built at the 76th kilometre of the Khasan-Razdolnoye road.
'This will be the first ecological tunnel in Russia,' said Ivanov. So far 300 metres of the 575 metre tunnel is complete and opening is due in August.
'I would like to visit the opening ceremony, if my schedule allows,' he said. The tunnel joins the Land of the Leopard National Park with the Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve, both affording protection to the world's rarest big cat.
As Western children salute Santa's Rudolph, here in the Sakha Republic the antlered animals are in peril from ravenous predators.