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Video of Amur leop­ard cubs con­firm first-​known breed­ing in China

pub­lished 30 Novem­ber 2013 | mod­i­fied 03 Novem­ber 2014

The Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Soci­ety (WCS) con­firmed today that cam­era traps in the Wangqing Nature Reserve in north­east China recorded footage of a female Amur leop­ard (Pan­thera par­dus ssp. ori­en­talis) with two cubs, mark­ing the first record of breed­ing by this critically-​endangered cat in China. The cam­eras, located some 30 km (18 miles) away from the pri­mary Amur leop­ard pop­u­la­tion on the Rus­sia side of the China-​Russia bor­der, are part of a region-​wide cam­era trap project con­ducted by the Forestry Bureau of Jilin Province.

amur leopard zooThe WCS China Pro­gram runs cam­era trap mon­i­tor­ing at Hunchun Nature Reserve, 13 km (8 miles) south­east of Wangqing. Other part­ners in this project include World Wide Fund for Nature, the Feline Cen­ter of the State Forestry Admin­is­tra­tion, the Chi­nese Acad­emy of Sci­ences, and the Amur Leop­ard and Tiger Alliance (ALTA).

With a few key deci­sions by the gov­ern­ment, China could become a major sanc­tu­ary for the species

Joe Wal­ston, WCS Exec­u­tive Direc­tor for Asia Programs »

WCS has been work­ing for more than a decade to improve con­di­tions for leop­ards, includ­ing expand­ing and improv­ing law enforce­ment efforts, edu­cat­ing gov­ern­ment agen­cies, and work­ing with local com­mu­ni­ties to improve live­stock hus­bandry tech­niques that reduce human dis­tur­bance and con­flict in leop­ard habi­tat. This evi­dence of repro­duc­tion shows that our efforts are pay­ing off.

“This incred­i­ble find is impor­tant for two rea­sons. Firstly, it shows that our cur­rent efforts are pay­ing off but, sec­ondly, it shows that China can no longer be con­sid­ered periph­eral to the fate of both wild Amur leop­ards and tigers,” said Joe Wal­ston. “With a few key deci­sions by the gov­ern­ment, China could become a major sanc­tu­ary for the species.”

Known as the Amur (or Far East­ern) leop­ard, it is the world’s most endan­gered big cat, with only 3050 indi­vid­u­als left in the wild. Cold and deep snows have pre­vented the leopard’s suc­cess­ful coloni­sa­tion far­ther north, while in the south, poach­ing and inten­sive devel­op­ment have prac­ti­cally elim­i­nated leop­ards from China and Korea. Today these leop­ards are found only in a thin strip of land along the Russian-​Chinese bor­der. The Amur leop­ard is listed as Crit­i­cally Endan­gered by The IUCN Red List of Threat­ened Species

(Source: WCS press release, 26.11.2013)

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