Caucasian leopard spotted in Caucasus Wildlife Refuge

Caucasian leopard spotted in Caucasus Wildlife Refuge

PanARMENIAN.Net - The Caucasus Wildlife Refuge (CWR) encompasses all in all 2000 hectares stretching along the border of Khosrov Forest State Reserve in the vicinity of Urtsadzor village, Ararat province of Armenia.

The Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC) maintains the territory as a protected area with the support of several local and international partners among them FPWC’s general partner VivaCell-MTS, the RA Ministry of Nature Protection, the British organization World Land Trust and the Dutch Committee of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN NL).

Taking into account the importance of keeping the territory under constant monitoring, VivaCell-MTS provided to FPWC three trap cameras especially designed for world life observation. The cameras are equipped with GSM module, the company said in a press release.

Since spring 2012 the FPWC rangers collected several samples of leopard fur and feces in the same area where now the video was shot. The samples were genetically analyzed in an Israeli laboratory connected to Jerusalem Zoo with the result that they originated from a Caucasian leopard. A year later, on June 30, 2013 the trap cameras installed by FPWC rangers recorded only the tail of a leopard.

On August 7 morning, the trap cameras recorded footage of the body of the Caucasian leopard. After having examined the video, the experts of FPWC concluded that the leopard is limping caused maybe because it once was caught in a trap. This theory has later been confirmed by the senior scientific researcher of the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the Russian Academy of Sciences, well-known scientist, PhD Victor Lukarevsky. In spite of the limping the animal – which is identified as male – seems to be in good shape, very strong and healthy.

The video footage of the leopard as well as other video recordings showing for example Bezoar goats, Syrian brown bears, Bearded vultures, wolves, wild boars, foxes and many other species are a tangible result of the joint efforts of FPWC and the organization’s partners. This efficient management approach is after three years constant work bearing fruits - the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge provides a safe wildlife corridor in the buffer zone of the Khosrov State Reserve with increasing wildlife sightings in particular of large Bezoar goat herds. The latter is extremely important as the presence of a leopard in the area is closely linked to the availability of enough prey namely Bezoar goats and wild boars. The FPWC along with VivaCell-MTS will also organize a number of events with the aim to increase the public awareness and to promote ecological education among youth. The main upcoming events are the Sixth Pan-Armenian Painting Contest and the Animal Carnival Parade within the frames of SunChild 4th International Environmental Festival. Both events will strongly motivate the youth to preserve Armenia’s natural heritage and in particular the highly endangered Caucasian Leopard.

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