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Rare leopardess back from the dead in 'miracle' after being snared by poachers

By The Siberian Times reporter
04 January 2017

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.'

Rare leopardess 'back from the dead' in 'miracle' after being snared by poachers
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. 

Rare leopardess 'back from the dead' in 'miracle' after being snared by poachers


Rare leopardess 'back from the dead' in 'miracle' after being snared by poachers
'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.'

Rare leopardess 'back from the dead' in 'miracle' after being snared by poachers
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.

Comments (5)

Gabriela may I remind you that England's environment is practically a sterile one where it is denuded of big mammals but as well as forests! You know better than me that even beavers are persecuted and the state has sponsored the killing of hundreds, after pressure from the animal husbandry industry! However the recent killing of those bears in Russia is a despicable act and very distressing to all animal lovers around the world. Two wrongs won't make one right...
Matthew Tabone, Malta
08/01/2017 23:57
4
0
The Amur Leopards are very beautiful and elegant big cats. We love them (Bary, Leo 80; Lord and other like brave Aleska!) The Russia's Land of Leopards Reserve do a great job to protect them. Thanks to them .
Please could you explain to us which part of the animal is to be observed in order to be able to identify them? I tried, but I did not succeed.Thank you
Jocelyne, FRANCE
07/01/2017 21:08
10
0
gabriela kaminski, nothing to do with nation. You are in England. English/British have poached animals all over Africa and India and elsewhere for centuries; not to mention colonized and enslaved and murdered many peoples there too. You really want to talk about nations?
Sergei, Richmond, Canada
06/01/2017 10:57
14
1
at last a good news story after the shameful acts of the so called humans who killed the poor bear for fun (someone knows who they are - the way a nation treats animals says a lot about the psyche of that nation)- let us hope that the leopard and her family continue to thrive.
gabriela kaminski, england
05/01/2017 18:42
4
4
Try to catch the poachers and put a snare around there neck.and pull him up SLOOWLY.
Benedikt MORAK, Moscow
05/01/2017 15:51
17
0
1

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