Help Save rarest 100 Amur Leopards from Extinction

by Phoenix Fund
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Help Save rarest 100 Amur Leopards from Extinction
Help Save rarest 100 Amur Leopards from Extinction
Help Save rarest 100 Amur Leopards from Extinction
(c) Land of the Leopard
(c) Land of the Leopard

In spring, during the three months, the law-enforcement team conducted 82 anti-poaching patrols in the Land of the Leopard National Park. The goals and objectives of the work remained the same: it was identification and prompt suppression of violations of environmental legislation on the protected territory.

Throughout March, the team's priority task was to inspect the snow-covered roadside area for traces of illegal hunting, as well as to find places where wild ungulates were preyed. At the beginning of the month, work was carried out with the Science Department, during which they carried out tiger and leopard (and other animals) tracking, collected excrements and made monitoring records of wild animals. From the middle of the month the rangers carried out intensive patrols on the river Narva. Night shifts were conducted on vehicles along the state road Slavyanka - Barabash - Primorskaya to identify the presence of suspected violators’ cars, followed by a check of the surrounding area. The tracing of the tracks of the car on which the offenders were carrying out illegal hunting led to the alleged finding of these offenders. In the course of operational-search activities, the identity of a man living in the Filippovka village was established. Subsequently, searches were carried out together with Police of the Khasansky district and a modified Saiga-MK rifle with a device for sound reduction was seized, a criminal case was initiated on this fact. For more productive work in the area of the Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve, special camera traps were installed. Daytime foot patrols were carried out in areas around Narva river, Filippovka and Ovchinnikovo villages, and Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve to control the territory in the supposed places of poachers' visits.

In the middle of the month, part of the team was sent to training in fire safety.

In April 2021, the team's main task was to identify the hotbeds of arson and extinguish fires. The management of the protected area divided the territory of the national park into several sites under the control of certain teams of rangers, on which constant vigils were carried out to observe and detect new fires, as well as to timely respond to extinguish these fires. During the month, rangers took part in five fire suppression events.

At the beginning of the month, the team, together with the Science Department and Hunting Management Department, was engaged in the search and further capture of the conflict leopard in the area of the Sukhanovka railway station.

The priority of patrol work in May was the suppression of illegal hunting. The team assisted border guards in searching for violators near the border. The monitoring of the territories for fires was also carried out. The rangers took part in extinguishing of four forest fires in the territory of the Land of the Leopard National Park. In the reportedmonth during regular patrols near settlements bordering the Land of the Leopard and the Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve no cases of illegal hunting were identified.

(c) Land of the Leopard
(c) Land of the Leopard
(c) Land of the Leopard
(c) Land of the Leopard
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(c) Phoenix Fund
(c) Phoenix Fund

During the reporting period, from November through January, the anti-poaching team carried out 83 patrols in the Land of the Leopard. The priority task of the rangers was to search for potential poachers’ trails in the snow-covered area. An additional, but no less important task was to control the territory to prevent the emergence of wild fires. Since poachers began to use special devices to detect wild ungulates at night, vehicle patrols along the Slavyanka - Zanadvorovka federal highway were carried out to identify cars of alleged offenders. At that time, half of the team carried out daytime foot patrols in areas such as: Narva river, Filippovka, Ovchinnikovo villages, Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve to make sure there are no intruders. A large number of leopard and tiger tracks were registered during these months.

Rangers, together with the police, revealed two difficult cases of illegal hunting in the protected area. Wild boar and roe deer were killed by poachers. Thanks to the well-coordinated work, the employees of the national park were able to conduct an independent investigation in the shortest possible time, to detect the addresses and names of the violators.

The abundance of ungulates in the national park is a factor that increases the risk of poaching. State inspectors conduct daily law-enforcement patrols to prevent poaching. However, the vast territory of the Land of the Leopard, which is more than 369 thousand hectares, leaves some violators a chance to commit a crime, but they still cannot escape justice.

Two cases of illegal hunting were investigated in just two days. The first violation was revealed in the area of the Filippovka village, where the skin of a wild boar killed with a firearm was found by the rangers. In the second case, on the border with the Kedrovaya Pad nature reserve, the inspectors chased a poacher's car, which managed to escape. A dead roe deer was found at the site of illegal night hunting.

Although the poachers managed to escape the scene of the crime, the inspectors of the Land of the Leopard conducted an independent administrative investigation and managed to reveal the names of the violators and their addresses in a few hours. On the basis of the data obtained promptly, the inspectors carried out operational-search measures together with the Khasansky District Department of Internal Affairs. A search at both addresses revealed the suspects' involvement in the poaching.

Now the police are taking a set of measures aimed at establishing all the circumstances of the incidents. A number of studies have been scheduled, based on the results of which a decision will be made in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation. The sanction of Article 258 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation "Illegal hunting in a specially protected natural area" provides for liability in the form of imprisonment for up to two years.

Meanwhile, the results of research conducted by specialists of the Land of the Leopard national park showed that the Amur leopards have expanded their range three times compared to the beginning of the century. The information was obtained for the first time thanks to the generalization of long-term scientific materials.

Due to the habitat destruction, the range of the animal has decreased by more than 35 times by the beginning of the 21st century. The small population of Amur leopards survived only in the south-west of Primorsky Krai - the last remaining 30 individuals in the world inhabited only 223 300 hectares of territory. After taking measures to preserve the leopard, its numbers began to recover.

Today this unique animal lives in all forest areas in the southwest of Primorsky Krai - 460,000 hectares. In addition to about 100 leopards, the protected area is home to 30 Amur tigers, up to 22,000 sika deer, roe deer and wild boars. Large predators are an indicator of the state of the ecosystem: if the number of big cats is stable, if they feel comfortable, then the whole nature is healthy.

It is important to note that the Amur leopard is the most peaceful of all leopard subspecies, the only one that never attacks humans, and the expansion of its range not pose a threat to people. We thank you for the support of our conservation project and happy to share these great news with you!

(c) Phoenix Fund
(c) Phoenix Fund
(c) Phoenix Fund
(c) Phoenix Fund
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(c) Phoenix Fund
(c) Phoenix Fund

During the summer period, the anti-poaching team patrolled the habitats of the Amur leopard intensively.In June 2020, the team conducted 26 law-enforcement patrols of the territory of the Land of the Leopard National Park. The goals and objectives of the work remained the same: it is the identification and prompt suppression of violations of environmental legislation on the territory of the national park.During the month, the priority task of the rangers was to find places where violators are installing "salt licks" for feeding ungulates. The team set up camouflaged tents and carried out round-the-clock ambushes. All the salt licks were destroyed in the end. Additionally, the team checked seasonal violators (mushroom pickers, tourists and fishermen without special permits). Frequent patrols were carried out in areas near Ovchinnikovo and Filippovka villages, as well as in the area of the Narva River.

In July, the team carried out 25 anti-poaching patrols. During the month, the rangers made ambushes at salt licks, but no signs of human presence were discovered.

Special attention was paid to the territory of Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve because people used to get into the protected areas in July in order to harvest ginseng roots. The rangers regularly patrolled on foot along the borders and in the core of the nature reserve. During one of the rounds around the protected area, the rangers found an abandoned campsite and destroyed it.

 A joint many-day patrol with border guards was conducted behind the border protection zone between Russia and China. The goal of the patrol was to assist border guards in patrolling the area where Chinese people used to cross the border in order to harvest ginseng roots.

In August 2020, the team's priority task was to identify violations in the Gamow Peninsula cluster. Rangers held night shifts in special mobile cars there. In total during the month 28 patrols were conducted. Also a joint patrol with the South team was carried out in order to prevent illegal gathering of ginseng roots. During the patrol, the rangers discovered a few abandoned camps. No violators were detained.

In September 2020, 29 anti-poaching patrols were carried out. Rangers focused on preparation for the beginning of the salmon spawning season. Frequent day and night patrols were carried out in the areas of Narva, Barabashevka and Brusya rivers. The team established contacts with the police and the Federal Agency for Fisheries for further effective cooperation during the fishing season. Night shifts were carried out in special mobile wagons located near spawning rivers. The rivers were cleaned from the traces of illegal activities of violators: nets, fishing lines, hooks-cats, etc. were destroyed. At the end of the month, a criminal case was opened against two violators for illegal fishing on the Narva River. The violators were detained by the team on the left bank at night. State inspectors seized and transferred to the police department twenty individuals of salmon species (presumably chum salmon), as well as a fixed net, with the help of which the offenders were fishing.

Part of the group was engaged in familiarization with the newly attached territory - the marine reserve. The Kedrovaya Pad nature reserve was also regularly patrolled on foot.

During the reported period, no conflict situations with tigers, leopards and other predators were recorded.

(c) Phoenix Fund
(c) Phoenix Fund
(c) Phoenix Fund
(c) Phoenix Fund
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(c) Land of the Leopard
(c) Land of the Leopard

Today we are very happy to change the name of this project! For the ten years that we receive support for Amur leopard conservation from our amazing donors at GlobalGiving we are glad to report that the number of these big cats exceeded 100!

Back in 2010, when we started the project, there were only about 30 spotted cats left in the wild. The results of the last count showed a positive trend: now there are about 100 leopards, including cubs, at the Land of the Leopard national park. Thanks to the combined efforts of many people such an inspiring success became possible and we want to thank you for your invaluable contribution to the cause. With your donations we keep providing fuel, equipment and incentives to the law enforcement team of the national park. From February through May the team was in the field 26-27 days per month. Even with the outbreak of Covid-19 rangers kept patrolling the park on a regular basis and covered more than 500 km on foot. Their highly effective patrolling technics leaves poachers no chances for easy prey. Year after year they’ve gained a reputation of the uncompromising professionals and are well known both among locals and staff from protected areas of the region.

Despite the growing population numbers, Amur leopard that live only in the south-west of the Primorsky krai and a small part of Chinese territory bordering on Russia and, possibly, in North Korea it remains the world’s rarest wild cat. We have to make sure that the Land of Leopard will remain a very safe place for these predators to breed. Let’s ensure this together!

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(c) Land of the Leopard
(c) Land of the Leopard

In November, the team carried out 26 anti-poaching patrols to protect the Land of the Leopard National Park. During the month, the rangers continued patrolling along the Nezhinka, Barabashevka and Narva rivers. The team patrolled on foot, by quad bikes and jeep, and made ambushes and with the use of thermal camera tried to detect poachers. The rangers also patrolled around human settlements, such as Bamburovo, Filippovka and Ovchinnikovo villages. No violations were revealed. In November, the rangers attended a special workshop during which they were trained to arrest violators.

In December, the team continued patrolling the park, mostly along Narva river, Ovchinnikova and Filippovka villages and newly assigned territory of Gamov wildlife refuge in order to prevent and reveal poaching. The rangers carried out 27 patrols. In total, the team covered about 180 km on foot.

When patrolling on foot at the central park of the park, the rangers spotted signs indicating that someone had entered the territory by car. Following the tracks the team apprehended two poachers with a backpack full of fresh sika deer meat. The violators are residents of Khasan district. The detainees could not explain its origin of the meat, but soon a site was discovered nearby with the carcass of an ungulate, and traces of a gunshot wound were found in its remains. Rangers called the police officers. They also filled out the materials, collecting and preserving the evidence necessary to initiate a criminal case.

During December, the state inspector of the central subordination team received training in UAV flying in Ussuriysk, and passed exams on the ATV driver course.

In January, the team carried out 23 anti-poaching patrols. During the New Year holidays rangers enhanced the patrol regime due to the predicted surge in poaching over the weekend. Increasing the number of patrols helped protect ungulates - prey of rare Amur leopards and tigers. The rangers were mostly focused on foot patrols.

Special attention was paid to the territories of the national park adjacent to Bamburovo village. When human activities near the Bystraya river were noticed at the end of January, the team focused its attention to this region and conducted patrols there.

On January 14, rangers detained an armed intruder who was hunting in a neighboring hunting lease, and according to his words “accidentally” went into the depths of the national park. The uninvited guest did not have time to kill the animals, but may become a defendant in a criminal case on illegal hunting. It is worth mentioning that in previous years this man has already been repeatedly detained by state inspectors of the Leopard Land for such violations. This fact also does not speak in favor of his version of the accident that happened. Now Police is in charge of the investigation.

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Phoenix Fund

Location: Vladivostok, Primorski Krai - Russia
Project Leader:
Sergei Bereznuk
Vladivostok, Primorsky krai Russia
$152,852 raised of $170,000 goal
2,656 donations
$17,148 to go
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