Did her mate help free her from painful loop trap? Aleksa is seen with two cubs in what scientists say is sensation.
One of the brightest examples of survivability of Amur leopards. Picture: The Land of the Leopard
The female Amur leopard is one of only around 80 of the world's most endangered big cats living in the wild, and after seeing her on film with a 'gaping wound' from a poachers' trap, experts were sure she was dead.
She was snared when she moved across the frontier into China. Such metal loops gradually tighten around the animal's body, in her case around the left side, afflicting her pelvis and spine.
This was in 2014, but now images have emerged proving that Aleksa not only survived and came back to Russia, but also mothered two healthy cubs.
Spokesman for Russia's Land of Leopard reserve - set up to save the species - Ivan Rakov said: 'Seeing photos of leopardess with a gaping wound, experts literally 'buried' her, because they were sure that there could be almost no hope for her to survive.
'In such cases, it is impossible to help the animal, because a lot of time can pass between the moment when the wound was spotted by camera traps and when the cameras are checked.'
The Amur leopard is officially recognised as critically endangered. Picture: The Land of the Leopard
Her distinctive marks were spotted when analysing camera trap images in the reserve in 2016.
'The scientists witnessed a real miracle,' he said. 'Among the thousands of photos there were several shots of this cat. Her appearance here was virtually impossible.
'To believe in what they saw, the specialists compared the pattern on her body with the 'passports' of all known leopards.
'The fact was undeniable - Aleksa is alive, and that she is in the good shape. She not only managed to get rid of the loop, but survived, showing willpower, going through unbearable pain.'
There was also a scar on Aleksa's body, on the same place where was the poacher's loop, proving again that it was really her.
Another sighting showed her unmistakably with the two cubs.
'This female not only coped with the terrible wound, but also gave birth to two cubs, raised them, obtained food for them and defended them against enemies in the forest'. Pictures: The Land of the Leopard
How could the big cat have removed the loop?
This is described as a 'great mystery'.
One option is that the loop was poorly made, and while injuring her did not cause more serious damage and fell off. Another is that her unknown leopard mate helped her get rid of it.
Ivan Rakov said: 'This was a real sensation for the staff at the Land of Leopard. Aleksa not only managed to survive but also to find a mate, and later to give birth to two cubs, once again proving that the rarest of the planet's big cats are animals with extremely ductile behaviour, able to adapt to almost anything.
'This female not only coped with the terrible wound, but also gave birth to two cubs, raised them, obtained food for them and defended them against enemies in the forest.'
Aleksa 'is one of the brightest examples of survivability of Amur leopards.'
'This animal, which miraculously managed to avoid extinction, not only proved that it is able to survive in harsh winter conditions, but also learned to live with two formidable neighbours: the larger predator, the Siberian tiger, and the most dangerous creature in the world - human.'
This was a real sensation for the staff at the Land of Leopard. Picture: The Land of the Leopard
The Amur leopard is officially recognised as critically endangered, yet the numbers in the wild have risen from as low as a mere 30 in 2007 to around 80 now.
This came after a 'baby boom' among the leopards in the national park set up to protect them from poaching, which had driven them to the brink of extinction as a wild animal.
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