16 March 2016
Novel approach to help recovery of leopard and tiger numbers in the Russian Far East.
'The leopards are getting fatter which is not very good for wild cats.' Picture: Land of LeopardsThe Kremlin has praised a new 'insurance policy' which will compensate farmers if their livestock is eaten by the rising number of big cats roaming the region. A few years ago there were grave fears of extinction for the Amur leopard and tiger populations due to poaching.
But the head of the Russian presidential administration Sergei Ivanov revealed that numbers of wild leopards have risen from 30 to 80, allowing real hope that extinction can be avoided.
A survey revealed in December that there are now some 562 tigers in their natural habitat. But Mr Ivanov said that leopards 'have started to attack livestock more often'.
Leopard, known as Simba, attacked the livestok on the farm in Primorye. Pictures: Novonikolsk stud farmHe said: 'One of the largest Russian insurance companies has volunteered to insure the damage caused by leopards and tigers. The maximum insurance amounts to up to two million roubles.' This is around $28,150.
In June, a leopard attacked a two month old calf grazing on a privately-owned farm in Primorye region. This leopard, known as Simba, was patronised by senior government official Yuri Trutnev, a deputy prime minister and presidential envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District.
Mr Trutnev gave the farmer 70 bags of oats as compensation, but the case led to insurance company SOFGAZ offering to make good future damage suffered by farmers.
Sergei Ivanov: 'We can say that our animals are becoming less exposed to dangers coming from humans. In these conditions, our cats are reproducing very well.' Pictures: kremlin.ru, Gennady Yusin, Nikolay Zinovyev, Land of LeopardsMr Ivanov has led a drive to save the leopard and he called the insurance scheme a 'correct; and 'civilised solution'. A new ecological tunnel in the Land of the Leopards national park would open later this month, he said. 'It's going to be the first ecological tunnel in Russia. It has been built under a highway, which crosses the national park,' he said.
He claimed a decline in poaching was a key reason the increase in leopard numbers. 'The situation is more than satisfactory. The leopards are getting fatter which is not very good for wild cats,' 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.'
Nine [wild] cubs were born in one year, he said. The leopards are also living longer.