Unmanned aerial vehicle with a camera and video recorder - quadcopter - appeared at the disposal of the Land of the Leopard National Park. The device and a series of training sessions for the park’s rangers were provided by the Phoenix Fund.
Earlier, the rangers of the Land of the Leopard had already had the opportunity to witness the patrol effectiveness of the copter during several presentations. And this time Phoenix donated first UAV to the national park just in time with the beginning of fire-hazardous season.
"Certainly, it is a valuable gift to the national park, - says Eugene Stoma, Deputy Director of the Land of the Leopard. - Performance characteristics of the copter will allow monitoring fires, controlling poaching, tracking wildlife conflict, and conducting animals’ counts. I think this equipment would be very effective in the inspector's work. "
The rangers had passed a series of lessons learning how to operate the UAV. The first training was carried out in Vladivostok where the inspectors received theoretical knowledge and later they were able to demonstrate new knowledge in practice under the supervision of the Phoenix Fund's staff.
"The crew from the Land of the Leopard is promising. The guys are young and technically competent", - says Sergey Bereznuk, director of the Phoenix Fund. - They absorbed all the necessary information rapidly and have proven that they can put it into practice. During the training session using the UAV inspectors managed to detect a fire, which at that time was being extinguished by their colleagues."
Air monitoring of the Land of the Leopard will be held as needed. In fire-hazardous period copter will help identify wild fires and monitor the situation, depending on the wind speed and direction. In addition, it is planned to purchase two more similar devices that will allow for conducting air patrols by the three anti-poaching teams of the park simultaneously.
We want to thank our dear supporters for their contribution to this important Amur leopard conservation project. With your help we will make sure the best practice to fight poaching is used by law-enforcement teams in the Land of the Leopard National Park!
A one-off winter count of rare wild cats has been completed in Land of the Leopard National Park. From 31 January through 2 February, Land of the Leopard employees covered 67 routes totalling around 700 kilometres in a massive effort to measure the tiger and leopard populations in the southern part of Russia’s Primorsky krai. A similar count will begin in northern Primorye and the Khabarovsk Territory on 7 February.
“The count in the national park proceeded as scheduled - 100 per cent of the routes, around 700 kilometres, were covered within three days,” Yevgeny Stoma, Deputy Director for Security at Land of the Leopard, told reporters. “There were no emergencies. The staff did their job responsibly and the equipment didn’t let us down either. Both tiger and leopard tracks and quite a few remains of prey were found. The latter were recorded too.”
Land of the Leopard inspectors also used the opportunity to check camera traps and install new ones where necessary. Several new cameras were set up in areas where numerous wild cats left tracks in the snow.
“Tiger and leopard tracks were spotted on the majority of the routes,” Yelena Salmanova, Deputy Director for Science and Environmental Education at Land of the Leopard, said in an interview. “In addition, we managed to collect a good amount of excrement samples of the rare felines for genetic testing. But it would be premature to give any figures, as it will take several months to process the count data. The first results will be available in spring.”
The previous counts estimated the population of the Amur leopards on Land of the Leopard’s territory at approximately 50 animals.
For all our supporters who follow the fate of leopardess Sophie and her cubs that dwell in the vicinity of Olenevod deer farm we have some good news!
The photographs received from camera-traps in the middle of November prove that mother and her cubs are doing well. Take a look!
It is to be recalled that for more than two years the female Amur leopard Sophie lives in close proximity to one of the deer farms located in the Khasansky district of Primorye. Such neighborship is unfavorable to the owner because the animal uses his territory as the hunting site. Therefore, the farmer suffers constant damage from leopard’s presence. To solve the conflict between the man and the animal the Phoenix Fund together with the Institute of environmental problems and evolution of A.N. Severtsov of the Russian Academy of Sciences developed a special program which helps to maintain tolerant relation of the farmers towards rare predators. The main difference of this program from paying compensation to the owner of cattle for the damage caused by a predator is that every month the farmer receives a fixed sum of money for the fact of leopard’s presence in close proximity to his territory.
First outdoor test flight of a quadcopter have occurred under the territory of Land of the Leopard National Park this week. Bird’s-eye view video and images of the protected area were get thanks to the Phoenix Fund. More and more frequently, one can see that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with mounted photo- and video cameras are used during outdoor public events. However, it is no secret that quadcopters are also used to get beautiful landscape photos. Thanks to the Phoenix Fund, it became possible to do landscape photos just a few hundred meters above a tourist route named “Following the Path of the Leopard”. During a walk along the route, the quadcopter rose in the sky several times. Although trees with abundant foliage did not let to see the details of the tourist route, it became possible to get wonderful bird’s-eye views of the hills in the national park; and it’s worth it.
“Today new technology gives us unique opportunities”, says Valentina Vysotskaya, Head of the Environmental Education Department of Land of the Leopard National Park. “It let us show much better and more vividly the beauty of the Southwest Primorye to people who have already visited us and those who are just planning to come here. I hope that our collection of still photos taken from the quadcopter will be constantly replenished by the new ones, and they will help attract here real nature enthusiasts”.
After conducting successful first test flights of the quadcopter above the Land of the Leopard, specialists of the Phoenix Fund and the national park would like to hold a series of analogous meetings.
“Our task is to help national parks and nature reserves of the Russian Far East to protect unique nature”, says Director of the Phoenix Fund Sergei Bereznuk. “In our work we are trying to go with the times and use new tools and technology. And light unmanned aerial vehicles with mounted video cameras are among these tools. A quadcopter flying camera lets observe how the national park is protected, gives information on areas that have high fire potential, and helps monitor wildlife, etc. Also, it is important to note that such camera let show beautiful landscape and natural objects from a different angle. We are hopeful that such a new look at the Land of the Leopard will draw more attention towards conservation of rare big cats living in this area. We have been working on this pilot project for the second year in row through trial and error. Now, we are moving into a different level. We can provide technical assistance and lead the project in the protected areas of the Russian Far East. We are thankful to Alertis: fund for bear and nature conservation, Whitley Fund for Nature and ALTA for their support of this pilot project”.
You can see video here: http://youtu.be/dCB7LA8Hbzg
In May, the team carried on patrolling the assigned territory in order to prevent and reveal ecological violations in the Land of the Leopard National Park and adjacent areas of hunting leases. The team patrolled day and night. In all, the inspectors conducted 21 patrols. Besides protecting the Park from poachers, the inspectors also do their best to prevent and extinguish any ignitions on the protected area.
Also, the team gave one lecture on careful attitude towards nature for schoolchildren in Barabash village of Khasan district.
On May 1, the team finally put out the fire that started near Bamburovo railway station a few days earlier. No more ignitions were revealed in May in the southern part of the protected area.
On May 21, the inspectors set up 11 new border signs along Razdolnoye-Bezverkhovo highway.
From May 21 through May 23, the team patrolled the northern part of the national park and found out that the area near engineering and technical facilities (wired fences and the exclusion zone) along Russia-China border was frequently visited by people, supposedly by border guards, with intent to hunt illegally there. The information was forwarded to the inspector who was in charge of protecting that part of the park.
In May, it was decided to spend more time in ambushes near hand-made salt licks in order to prevent illegal hunting there.
In May, the team carried on patrolling the assigned territory in order to prevent and reveal ecological violations in the Land of the Leopard National Park and adjacent areas of hunting leases. The team patrolled day and night. In all, the inspectors conducted 21 patrols. Besides protecting the Park from poachers, the inspectors also do their best to prevent and extinguish any ignitions on the protected area. Also, the team gave one lecture on careful attitude towards nature for schoolchildren in Barabash village of Khasan district.
On May 1, the team finally put out the fire that started near Bamburovo railway station a few years earlier. No more ignitions were revealed in May in the southern part of the protected area.
In June, the team of central subordination patrolled the Land of the Leopard National Park and adjacent areas of hunting leases in Khasan and Nadezhdinsky districts. The patrols were carried out mostly during the late evening or at night. All in all, the inspectors conducted 22 patrols.
On June 14, while patrolling the protected area near Pozharsky railway station at 3 a.m., the inspectors noticed a light ray bouncing in many different directions. It was decided to get close and see what was happening there. Having arrived at the railway, the inspectors spotted a car parked there and the rays of two flashlights coming towards the team. The inspectors decided to wait out in the bushes until people get closer. When two men approached the inspectors, it became clear that they had been hunting illegally with the use of spotlight at night. One of the men who turned out to be a police officer working in Vladivostok city was armed with a gun. He was detained, but his partner managed to escape. The detainee was taken to Slavyansky police station to initiate a criminal proceeding.
On June 28, during a night patrol along the Narva River, the team saw the light running in all directions. The inspectors pulled in to the side of the road and walked towards violators. After a while, they heard five gunshots. When they got closer, the inspectors saw people doing something in the field. When they tried to get out from the forest and go out on the road, one of the violator was detained. The other one offered serious resistance, and even shot in the air to frighten the inspectors. The detainee had a carbine, a knife, a bag with cartridges and a flashlight. Also, the inspectors examined a place in the field where the violators were spotted and found three backpacks with meat and two skins and heads of sika deer. The detainee was taken to Slavyansky police station where a criminal proceeding was initiated against him in accordance with 258 article of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.
In July rangers conducted 23 patrols during which only one violation of protected regime was registered. On July 29, two residents of Barabash village entered the protected area without permissions. The inspectors issued administrative reports.
Also, on July 7, the team was investigating a case where a leopard killed a deer at a farm in Bezverkhovo. The rangers confirmed by the evidence on site that the animal was killed by a leopard and now the owner can address to Phoenix Fund for compensation. Since 1999 Phoenix has been paying compensations to farmers suffering from livestock depredation in order to discourage farmers and villagers from killing predators. Due to limited funding, the program runs only in Khasan district, where Amur leopards are the priority for conservation.
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