Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve (NR) turned 95 years old today. It is one of the oldest protected areas in Russia. Since its creation, the size of the protected area has significantly increased, from 4,500 ha (in 1916) to 18,000 ha (1956). In 2009, the Russian Government created Leopardovy Widlife Refuge , merging two regional refuges into one federal and affixing it under supervision of the Kedrovaya Pad NR.
Kedrovaya Pad, with highest density of wild Amur leopards, plays a key role in conservation of this critically endangered species. With an estimated wild population of around 35 animals, the Amur leopard is probably the rarest big cat on Earth. According to data from geneticists, in 2006-2007, two male Amur tigers and three tigresses and two female Amur leopards and one male leopard lived in Kedrovaya Pad (Materials of International Conference “The Amur Tiger in Northeast Asia: Planning for the 21st Century”, Vladivostok, Russia, March 16-18, 2010). In March 2008, a family of four leopards was photographed in the protected area; in winter 2010-2011 at least six adult leopards, two of which had cubs, were registered close to the Reserve’s headquarters.
Nowadays, the Russian Government is working hard to create “Land of Leopard” National Park on the basis of Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve that will allow both to restore the Amur leopard population and to guarantee sustainable nature use. But Kedrovaya Pad NR will not disappear; it will serve as the core of wilderness and strictly protected area. Additionally, in the nearest future a Russia-China Transboundary Nature Reserve will be created with the aim to give the Amur leopard population better chance of survival.
Our wish is that Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve retains its wild character over the next hundred years. Thanks to the adequate science and law enforcement staff, the Kedrovaya Pad’s resources have been protected very well. We would like the Kedrovaya Pad have more people who treat it tenderly and want to do what is necessary to preserve and protect it every day. Thanks to support from you, our donors, we help Kedrovaya Pad's staff to improve their efforts to conserve the Amur leopard and other rare and endangered species.
We are very excited to inform our supporters at GlobalGiving that on July 6th, 2011 their generous donations helped the Phoenix Fund purchase a quad bike «Yamaha Grizzly 550» for Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve! The new ATV will allow the law-enforcement officers to patrol the most impassible territories of Kedrovaya Pad and Leopardovy protected areas. This was the fourth quad bike granted by Phoenix Fund for the needs of Amur leopard conservation.
“To save the rare Amur leopards we need to first of all focus on effective protection of its habitat,” - says the director of Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve Sergey Khohryakov. – “On the territory of the Leopardovy Wildlife Refuge there are eleven villages with fourteen thousand residents. Considerable part of the villagers ekes out a living from hunting and wild harvesting. Poachers get to the most secluded corners of protected forest by foot and we should have all-terrain vehicles to supervise and protect these areas. The Phoenix Fund responds immediately to needs of Law-enforcement Service of the reserve providing our inspectors with equipment, fuel, spare and repair parts, etc.”
Analyzing the latest leopard monitoring data the scientists concluded that protection of the Leopardovy refuge became more effective under the management of Kedrovaya Pad that resulted in increase of Amur leopards’ numbers.
We express our sincere gratitude to everyone who contributed to leopard conservation and supported our project.
On June 22, during the regular patrol along the territory of Leopardovy Wildlife Refuge the law-enforcement inspectors noticed two hunters with guns and backpacks.
During the pursuit, one hunter managed to disappear in the dense forest, the second was detained at the railway bridge through the Narva river, several kilometers away from Bezverhovo village, but without the weapon and a backpack. After the long search two backpacks and one unit of the weapon with a bandolier dumped in the course of a pursuit were found in a high grass. To extract the evidences, namely - presumably unregistered gun, one of the inspectors Andrey Onishchenko had to dive into cold water on depth of more than two meters to get it.
As the senior inspector of South team has informed, the detained resident of Bezverhovo village was brought to Slavyanskoe Police Department. The statement for a crime was submitted and registered. According to articles 144 and 145 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation inquiry bodies should make the decision on criminal case institution in three-day term.
This is a third fact of poachers detention made by South team in 2011. Earlier, on January 14 and on February 2, the South team apprehended poachers who were illegally hunting at the wildlife refuge territory. Criminal cases were initiated on both incidents.
The protected habitat of the Far-Eastern (Amur) leopards would be enlarged.
On May 16 at the meeting held in Vladivostok, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov talked about creation of Leopard Land national park and threats to the survival of the Far-Eastern leopard.
According to the Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, who supervises the Far-Eastern leopard conservation program, the population of this extremely rare species in Russia has almost halved over the last 20 years, with no more than 45 individuals remaining in the wild.
Today, the main role in the Far-Eastern leopard conservation belongs to the Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve and Leopardovy Wildlife Refuge, but their state leaves much to be desired. Main question that was discussed during the meeting concerned the borders of the pending national park. The territory of the Leopardovy Wildlife Refuge critically needs to be enlarged, considering the actual habitat of the predator. The national park will include lands behind the engineering facilities, "Nezhinsky" and "Borisovsky" hunting estates, and other lands. No stalking and hunting with dogs will be allowed in the new protected area. The emphasis of the development should be made on tourism. Also Sergei Ivanov said that a 600-meters long tunnel will be constructed near the Narvinsky pass on the Razdolnoe-Khasan route, so that the federal highway doesn’t disturb the leopards. The tunnel is designed for preservation of animals’ traditional migratory paths and its construction will be funded from federal budget and out of the funds provided by “Gasprom”.
“We agreed on park borders. Scientists have been repeatedly registering tracks of leopards to the north of Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve, therefore it was decided to include a number of these forestlands in a protected zone. Borders of the future Leopard Land national park were defined relying on this data, and they have increased to 380 hectares, which is twice as large as the present protected area. In two weeks all legal documents will be signed. I want to notice that we are not “ecological extremists”, and park borders would not affect territories important for households and gas pipeline. We should do the utmost to conserve the most northern leopard living in Russia", - Ivanov declared in conclusion.
A week ago I headed south to see how the leopards were doing, escaped from the city for a weekend to the place I love the most – Khasan district. The spring always comes to this lands first. There's no snow, rivers broke up, faded grass covers the hills, and for half an hour you can stay outside without a jacket on. But this early spring brings early dangers. The head of the South team who also lead the fire-fighting brigade in the Leopard Land reported that the forest fires started almost a month earlier than usually. I saw that for myself. Once-exuberant landscape came to resemble a burnt desert. I stared at black hills and adust trees with great sorrow imagining how uninhabitable this place is now for the few remained leopards.
As one may know, conservation of endangered animals nowadays should be complex in every possible way. For years the Phoenix Fund struggles for the survival of the Amur leopard and espouse the ecological cause. We realize that anti-poaching alone won't save the world's most peaceful predator. Education and outreach, compensation for damage caused by predators to livestock, resolution of conflicts, habitat protection and forest fire-fighting are vital activities implemented by Phoenix.
A week later a new well-equipped and motivated fire-fighting team successfully extinguished fresh fire in the leopard habitat. With the recent fire-fighting project started by Phoenix in Khasan the home of the leopard would be safe under watchful eye of firemen.
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