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Jon Pearson (Telegraph Online)

Christmas miracle: one of world's rarest big cats is back from the dead

By The Siberian Times reporter
15 December 2017

Amur leopard Killy - one of only 80 in the wild - was struck by a car last year, but new pictures show her alive and thriving.

Happy hunting! Killy the leopard pictured recently. Picture: Land of the Leopard Nature Reserve

Each big cat counts for so much with this endangered species since each one could in the end be the difference between survival and extinction in their natural habitat.

Killy was feared killed after being struck by a car in summer 2016 in Primorsky region, in Russia's Far East.

Pictures taken by passing motorists showed her lying wounded on the road, blood pouring from her mouth.

Rescuers rushed to the scene but by then she had crawled into the undergrowth.

Christmas miracle: one of world's rarest big cats is back from the dead


Christmas miracle: one of world's rarest big cats is back from the dead


Christmas miracle: one of world's rarest big cats is back from the dead
Pictures of Killy taken immediately after the road accident (two images below) and now (top images). Pictures: Land of the Leopard Nature Reserve


Further searches failed to locate her, but experts feared she had been fatally wounded and was dead.

Checks on camera trap footage from this area - part of the Land of the Leopard nature reserve - failed to locate a cat with her distinctive pattern of spots.

‘Finding Killy alive and unharmed is a true sensation, the main discovery of this year,' said excited Tatiana Baranovskaya, director of the reserve.

Her discovery shows 'just how incredibly resilient these cats are' as they fight for the survival of their species.

Ten years ago, numbers of these Siberian leopards in the wild had sunk to just 30.

Even now, with 80, a sudden disease could decimate the species, which is why every leopard is so vital.

Christmas miracle: one of world's rarest big cats is back from the dead
Killy was believed to be dead.  Picture: Land of the Leopard Nature Reserve


'We honestly lost all hope after more than a year of not seeing her', Tatiana Baranovskaya said.

'After several first pictures of Killy were received, we went through thousands of images in our database, comparing her individual pattern of spots with earlier shots, and making sure there was no mistake.

'We couldn’t believe our eyes, but there she was, tail high up and walking like she had never been harmed.

'She cheated death, and with a great feeling of joy and relief we all want to say ‘Happy hunting Killy!’'

Each leopard is carefully monitored.

Killy - named after Olympic giant Jean-Claude Killy - is four years old and known for her secretive behaviour.

The creation of the reserve by the Russian government - where the big cats are protected from illegal hunting - has led to a remarkable baby boom in the species.

Numbers of the leopards has almost tripled since 2007, yet the species remains 'critically endangered'.

Tatiaba Baranovskaya and Killy. Pictures: Land of the Leopard Nature Reserve

Christmas miracle: one of world's rarest big cats is back from the dead


Christmas miracle: one of world's rarest big cats is back from the dead

Comments (6)

Awesome news, animals can truly be amazing.
Dave Sennett, York, PA USA
26/12/2017 01:12
1
0
I remember the ST's earlier article about a dead leopard, it was a rankling news.
Killy's story a real miracle, I love this wonderful animals. Thanks for God.
Gábor Debrődi, Hungary
24/12/2017 07:34
3
0
I agree with William, Jocelyne and Alan, this is tremendous news, a huge relief and thank you to everyone involved in protecting these magnificent animals. Thank you as well to everyone involved in protecting the entire eco-system and eco-corridors that are enabling their recovery.
Pamela Tetarenko, League City, USA
18/12/2017 02:17
7
0
Very good news - we are so happy.
William McLean, Copenhagen, Denmark
17/12/2017 18:01
6
0
Amur léopards are wonderful animals. With Amur tigers there are treasure of your far eastern region.
Go Killy and keep secretive behaviour. Thanks to protect them
Jocelyne, FRANCE
16/12/2017 17:08
8
0
Beautiful animal. So glad it survived.
Alan Charles, New York USA
16/12/2017 06:43
10
0
1

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