Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS Russia)
Project Name: Monitoring Amur Leopards in Southwest Primorskii Krai, Russia 2017
Location: Russian Far East: southwest Primorskii Krai
Goal: Implementation of a more extensive network across habitat outside the national park and, establishment of a joint database which will be used in analyses of the total leopard population in Southwest Primorskii Krai.
Objective 1: Re-establish monitoring in Nezhinskoe
Objective 2: Continue to work in the northern sector
Objective 3: Camera trap previously-unmonitored leopard habitat outside the national park
Objective 4: Work with park staff to integrate the database
Background: In autumn 2015 we were notified by the Director of Land of the Leopard National Park that due to the demands of the primary park funder, WCS could not continue the collaborative work we had conducted in camera trap monitoring of Amur leopards since 2004. This was a decision not aimed at WCS, but for all non-governmental organizations. Consequently, we did not participate in the survey work in 2016, and we learned from park staff that the quality of work suffered from the absence of good field staff and insufficient numbers of cameras to cover the entirety of leopard habitat.
Most recent meetings with the Park Director indicate that these restrictions have been relaxed, and the Director has been given permission to again work with NGOs. In our meeting she indicated that they are eager to revive joint camera trapping activities both inside and adjacent to Land of the Leopard National Park. We have tentatively agreed to continue our focus on our long-term study area as well as the larger region we began surveying three years ago in the northeast sector of the park’s buffer zone. Additionally, we will work with Land of the Leopard National Park staff to attempt to completely cover all suitable leopard habitat (both inside and outside the park). While we may not succeed in fully covering all habitat in this first year, this strategic partnership would ensure that, eventually, the entire Russian population of Amur leopards is surveyed.
One important outcome of our recent meetings is the return to monitoring our long-term study site (Nezhinskoe) that partially lapsed during our absence in 2016. More importantly, participation by WCS will increase the quality of work and the volume of data, leading to a better estimate of the total number of leopards in Russia.