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Rare Amur Leopard Populations Double in Russia

Feb 23, 2015 09:11 PM EST
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Rare amur leopard populations have doubled in Russia, the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) announced Monday, showing that this species on the brink of extinction is determined to make a comeback.

There are now 65 to 69 of these big cats in Russia's Land of the Leopard National Park - that's up from 30 reported in 2007. An additional eight to 12 leopards live in adjacent areas of China. The park, which was established in 2012, covers about 60 percent of the animal's habitat and includes all of the leopard's known breeding areas.

"The national park became the main organizational force for leopard protection and research," Yury Darman, head of WWF Russia Amur Branch, said in a press release.

Conservationists hope to establish a nature reserve spanning the Chinese-Russian border to further protect these majestic animals.

"Such a strong rebound in Amur leopard numbers is further proof that even the most critically endangered big cats can recover if we protect their habitat and work together on conservation efforts," said Barney Long, who leads Asian species conservation for WWF in the United States.

"There's still a lot of work to be done in order to secure a safe future for the Amur leopard, but these numbers demonstrate that things are moving in the right direction," he added.

This good news about Amur leopards directly follows the first direct evidence of wild Amur, or Siberian tigers in China, who haven't been seen in the region for more than 65 years. This rare footage, captured by a camera trap and released by the WWF, was taken almost 20 miles from the Russian border late last year. In the past, tiger footprints were the only indicators of Amur tigers in China.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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