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World’s most endangered leopard shows population growth in China



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According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a new survey has shown that the population of the endangered Amur leopard (the most endangered feline in the world) in China is growing rapidly.

The WWF reports:

The results from the first-ever study to exclusively examine Amur leopards shows that traces of the rare big cats are now being found over a much larger area in and outside of northeast China’s Hunchun and Wangqing Nature Reserves, covering about 4100km2, an area similar in size to French Polynesia.

“The Amur leopard is critically endangered, and this research into population monitoring, habitat restoration and population migration characteristics is urgent for the survival of the species,” said the head of WWF-China’s Northeast Programme Office, Dr Zhu Jiang.

The Amur leopard is incredibly rare in the wild, and the species is the most endangered feline in the world, surpassing even the Amur tiger in rarity. Less than 50 now live in north eastern China and the Russian Far East.

This is the first time China has conducted a survey that exclusively focuses on Amur leopard population numbers, habitat location and habitat size in Jilin Province. The next stage, says Jilin Forestry Department’s Senior Engineer and Tiger-Leopard Programme Officer Jiang Jinsong, will cover a larger area, using infrared camera traps and DNA monitoring technology.

“Based on the results of this survey, the first trial areas will be the Hunchun and Wangqing reserves, where constant collection of information on individuals as well as monitoring of activity patterns among the general population will serve to build up a core of information on the settled Amur leopard and Siberian tiger populations,” said Jiang Jinsong.

WWF will continue to work with the Jilin Forestry Department, Hunchun Nature Reserve and Wangqing Forestry Bureau to continue monitoring population trends, assess habitat quality and the restoration of prey species. WWF will also maintain its contributions to the development of monitoring technology and anti-poaching management to help restore the Amur leopard population in China. 

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