Rare Cat

July 13, 2018

Photo Credit: ©Emmanuel Rondeau

There are only 84 Amur leopards left in the wild, says a new paper in Conservation Letters. Although that number may sound small, previous estimates in Russia suggested there were even fewer left, ranging from 25 to 50 individuals.

This latest figure was compiled by scientists from China, Russia, and the United States, who collated information from camera traps on both sides of the border. Because there are no records of leopards in other parts of the cat's former range, this estimate is for the total population of this subspecies in the wild.

“This first rigorous estimate of the global population of the Amur leopard represents an excellent example of the value of international collaboration," said Dale Miquelle, a co-author of the paper and the Tiger Program Coordinator for the Wildlife Conservation Society. "The trust and goodwill generated by this joint effort lays the foundation for future transboundary conservation actions."

Surprisingly, about one-third of the leopards were photographed on both sides of the Sino-Russian border. “We knew that leopards moved across the border," said Anya Vitkalova, a biologist at Land of the Leopard National Park in Russia, and one of the two lead authors, "but only by combining data were we able to understand how much movement there really is."

There were differences in population dynamics in Russia versus China. Leopards are currently recolonizing habitat in China by dispersing from the Russian side, where there appear to be about as many leopards as the habitat can support.

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