News from the UK this week reports that in 2007 there were only 30 wild Amur leopards in the Russian Far East and extinction seemed all but inevitable, but in recent months eight births took place.
16 cubs were spotted in a nature reserve set up by Vladimir Putin to ensure their survival.
Camera traps installed in the 1,000 square mile of the Land of the Leopard National Park counted the new arrivals. In all, eight female leopards are known to have given birth in recent months and scientists note every one of the cubs have a healthy appearance.
The number of cubs is three times as many as were spotted in 2014 indicating the success of Putin’s campaign to save the Amur leopard, even after its survival seemed doomed due to decades of poaching.
“The species is officially critically endangered, but the images show genuine new hope for avoiding extinction,” reported The Siberian Times.
In March, Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov announced there are now 80 Amur leopards in the wild, a major recovery from the low point nine years ago. Tougher penalties imposed against poachers seeking the skins of leopards and Siberian tigers, likewise an endangered big cat.
The rising number of leopards though led to attacks on farm livestock, but a special scheme has been put in place to avoid angry farmers shooting the predators. A major insurance company with close links to the Russian government set up a system to compensate cattle owners whose herds are attacked by the leopards.
“One of the largest Russian insurance companies volunteered to insure the damage caused by leopards,” said Ivanov. “The maximum insurance amounts are up to two million roubles” ($30,400US).
The insurance scheme is a correct and civilized solution, he said. “We can say that our animals are becoming less exposed to dangers coming from humans. “In these conditions, our cats are reproducing very well.”