Caucasian Leopard Caught On Camera – Just


Wildlife Extra
July 23 2013

A tantalising glimpse of a Caucasian Leopard

July 2013. Leopards are elusive animals at the best of times but in
the vicinity of the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge (CWR) it has been eight
years since one had been seen. If it hadn’t been for traces of hair and
a scat found in the CWR and proven to belong to a Caucasian Leopard,
we might still be wondering if they really did exist.

As of last week, the World Land Trust came another step nearer to
seeing a leopard up close. But the leopards are determined to live up
to their elusive reputation and so far have toyed with the watchers
by only showing a tail!

Caucasus Wildlife Refuge The landmark recording was made in July in
the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge, which is supported by World Land Trust
(WLT) and IUCN-Netherlands. The Caucasus Wildlife Refuge is managed
by WLT’s conservation partner in Armenia, the Foundation for the
Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC).

Manuk Manukyan, FPWC’s Coordinator of Conservation Projects, is one
of the few people to have seen a Caucasian Leopard in the wild, being
lucky enough to catch sight of one nearly a decade ago. He told WLT:
“The leopard is no longer a ghost! We know he (or she) is there and
that the habitat is suitable. It is very quiet and there is plenty
of prey. We will adjust the cameras and sooner or later we will get
pictures of the entire animal.”

Signs of leopard Since the reserve was created in 2010, FPWC staff
– some of them funded by WLT’s Keepers of the Wild programme – have
diligently recorded leopard tracks and signs and used this information
to locate camera-traps provided by WLT near to where the leopards are
thought to roam. At the same time, FPWC staff have made every effort
to protect the Caucasian Leopard’s habitat and prey, in particular
Bezoar Goats, wild boars and Armenian mouflon.

Mary McEvoy, WLT’s Conservation Programmes Manager (Asia and Africa
Regions) said: “At last, the efforts of FPWC staff have paid off. The
whole WLT office was very excited to see the footage so I can only
imagine how elated all at FPWC must be feeling. This is a great moment
for wildlife conservation in Armenia.”

Probably no more than 5 animals According to World Wide Fund for Nature
(WWF) Armenia, there are just 3 – 5 individuals recorded in Armenia
(some of them are migratory).

Each leopard needs habitat of some 44,500 – 60,000 acres (18,000 –
25,000 hectares), and their populations have been decimated by hunting
and poaching, and degradation of habitat caused by livestock grazing,
plant gathering and deforestation.

The Caucasian Leopard has only been photographed in the wild in Armenia
on two occasions, in 2005 and 2007. Those leopards had entered Armenia
from Iran in territory much further south of the CWR.

The leopard’s stronghold within Armenia is the rugged and cliffy
landscape of Khosrov State Reserve and surrounds. The Caucasus
Wildlife Refuge is located on land adjoining the Khosrov State Reserve,
south-east of the capital Yerevan on the south-western slopes of the
Geghama mountains.

Donate to Save the Caucasian Leopard WLT is currently raising funds
to lease land to extend the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge (CWR) and to
improve monitoring and protection measures within CWR. With this
protection in place we feel sure that in the future there will be
more camera-trip images of leopards (hopefully with cubs!)

View video at

From: A. Papazian

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