Critically endangered Amur leopard captured

October 23, 2007
Critically endangered Amur leopard captured
Conservationist examing a recently captured Amur leopard in Russia. Credit: Wildlife Conservation Society

A rare Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis), one of only an estimated 30 left in the wild has been captured and health-checked by experts from a consortium of conservation organizations, before being released.

Representatives from a group of organizations, including the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Biology and Soils, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) captured the female in a remote location in south-west Primorye as part of their work to save the critically endangered leopard. The animal was tranquilized and an extensive and high-tech medical examination undertaken by the veterinary team.

Alexei Kostyria, biologist from the Institute of Biology and Soils in Vladivostok and co-leader of the project, commented, “This capture represents a new benchmark in assessing health of wild animals in Russia. We have brought together top experts from Russia and around the world and taken state-of-the-art equipment deep into the taiga to conduct medical assessments of the Far Eastern leopard. We have an unprecedented level of collaboration and remarkable effort that is essential if we are to save this critically endangered leopard.”

Kostyria’s counterpart, John Goodrich of the Wildlife Conservation Society, commented, “Catching this female was a big step forward in our efforts to understand the status of this population, and to better define necessary conservation actions needed to conserve this population.”

There are estimated to be between 24 and 32 Amur leopards living in the wild, making this population the rarest big cat on the planet. The animals are found in a corner of the Russian Far East on the Chinese border, in an area where their range is restricted by human activity. As the wild population is so small, it is likely that inbreeding (breeding between close relatives) is taking place and it is important to find out if this is having damaging effects on the cats in order to plan conservation action for the future. The Wildlife Conservation Society and the Zoological Society of London are working with local organizations to initiate a wildlife health monitoring program involving leopards and other wildlife in the region.

Initial findings from the veterinary examination of the leopard include the presence of a heart murmur, which could be indicative of inbreeding depression. Remarkably given the remote location, the team was able to capture footage of the heart, using a portable sonogram device, which has already been sent out for review by heart specialists. Further results are expected once laboratory analysis has been carried out, which will provide more information about the reproductive condition of the leopard as well as any illnesses or parasites that she may have been suffering from.

Source: Wildlife Conservation Society

Explore further: Snow leopards' return brings hope to remote Afghan region

Related Stories

Protest targets rail line over Kenya's oldest wildlife park

September 16, 2016

Angry protesters marched in Kenya's capital on Friday against plans to build an elevated railway line over the country's oldest national park, saying the project will threaten wildlife that includes lions, leopards and giraffes.

Wild chimpanzee mothers teach young to use tools

October 12, 2016

The first documented evidence of wild chimpanzee mothers teaching their offspring to use tools has been captured by video cameras set to record chimpanzee tool-using activity at termite mounds in the Nouabalé-Ndoki National ...

Look out squirrels: Leopards are new backyard wildlife

March 28, 2013

A new study led by WCS-India scientist Vidya Athreaya finds that certain landscapes of western India completely devoid of wilderness and with high human populations are crawling with a different kind of backyard wildlife: ...

Snow leopard population discovered in Afghanistan

July 13, 2011

The Wildlife Conservation Society has discovered a surprisingly healthy population of rare snow leopards living in the mountainous reaches of northeastern Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor, according to a new study.

First snow leopards collared in Afghanistan

July 17, 2012

Two snow leopards were captured, fitted with satellite collars, and released for the first time in Afghanistan by a team of Wildlife Conservation Society conservationists and Afghan veterinarians conducting research during ...

Recommended for you

Swiss firm acquires Mars One private project

December 2, 2016

A British-Dutch project aiming to send an unmanned mission to Mars by 2018 announced Friday that the shareholders of a Swiss financial services company have agreed a takeover bid.

New aspect of atom mimicry for nanotechnology applications

December 2, 2016

In nanotechnology control is key. Control over the arrangements and distances between nanoparticles can allow tailored interaction strengths so that properties can be harnessed in devices such as plasmonic sensors. Now researchers ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.