Project #6144

Help Save Last 30 Amur Leopards from Extinction

by Phoenix Fund
(c) Land of the Leopard National Park
(c) Land of the Leopard National Park

Evgeny Stoma, Deputy Director for Security of the Land of the Leopard National Perk, addressed the All-Russia meeting of natural reserve and national park directors and presented the unique expertise of using SMART program developed for monitoring of anti-poaching raids in the work of the Institution.

The All-Russia meeting of natural reserve and national park directors on challenges and opportunities of federal-status Specially Protected Natural Reservations (SPNR) system development started in Vladivostok on October 5, 2015. The event was organized by Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation and National Park “Land of the Leopard”.

A separate session of the meeting held in the Russky Island was dedicated to evaluation of performance of SPNR security service. CEOs of natural reserves discussed basic problems of management of inspectors’ activities and possible ways to solve them. Admittedly, in their work security departments should take into account increasing technical capabilities and competence of poachers. In this respect, Evgeny Stoma shared his views on how the new technologies can be used in the work of security department for best results.

Though having a lot of people, vehicles and equipment in security department is an important factor, they alone do not guarantee success yet. In order to understand the critical areas and to facilitate recording of operations and adaptive management of raids, SMART program has been used in the territory of National Park “Land of the Leopard” since 2010. This program is based on geographic information system and allows for analysis of territory patrolling operations.
SMART-like systems were first used in environmental inspectors’ work with the assistance of Phoenix Fund and WSC. Starting on a raid, the inspectors of “Land of the Leopard” switch on their GPS navigators which record the distances covered. Using SMART, the inspectors add any discovered violations to common database. This program also helps to indirectly monitor the abundance of rare animals, as in addition to “Raid Route” and “Violations” forms the inspectors on the spot using GPS must place a mark in “Tiger & Leopard” form if they find any traces of these felines’ vital activities.
“We hold a quarterly meeting dedicated to analysis of our work on SMART program, - says Evgeny Stoma. – At this meeting we analyze performance of both operational groups and individual inspectors. This gives an opportunity to determine the most important areas of national park for patrolling and to identify the inspectors worthy of a commendation. Of course, this program is not a cure-all solution, but it well deserves being called an effective tool in the work of a SPNR security service”.

This opinion is supported by data of results of inspectors’ work obtained for the last 4 years in the territory of National Park “Land of the Leopard”. As the number of raids grows, there are fewer violations discovered, and this fact serves as the main measure of effectiveness of security department’s work.

SMART that proved itself as an efficient system is being introduced into other SPNRs, too. At present, this program is adopted in 7 of 9 federal reserves and national parks of Russia where Amur tigers reside.


Sergei Ivanov, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office and Chair of the Far Eastern Leopards Supervisory Board, said at the Eastern Economic Forum that the number of the Amur leopards, which only recently was below 30, has nearly tripled.

According to THE FAR EASTERN (Amur) LEOPARD PROGRAMME, there are at least 80 Amur leopards living in the wild worldwide. The researchers from Land of the Leopard National Park and Beijing Normal University arrived at this conclusion based on leopard photo monitoring data obtained both in Russia and China.

Earlier, Russian researchers operated using data obtained solely in Russia. According to photo monitoring and winter leopard track count, it became known in 2015 that there are about 70 spotted predators residing in Russia. However, no data on the number of leopards in China was available then.

"Of course, the fact that the global population size of the Amur leopard is higher is great news,” Environment Minister Sergei Donskoi said. “The fact that the leopard is now also living in China is the result of many years of work by Russian specialists. We hope that our Chinese colleagues will join us in these activities and will help bring the number of the Far Eastern leopards in the wild to a stable level, thus protecting this species from the threat of extinction."

That increase in leopard population became possible thanks to great attention attracted towards conservation of rare felines by Russian government, NGOs and international community.

However, it is due to highly effective work of law-enforcement rangers that the leopards are safe in the southwest Primorye. With your generous support the anti-poaching teams of the Land of the Leopard National Park were able to safeguard the leopards from poaching and other threats.

From June through August the team carried out 63 anti-poaching patrols in the Land of the Leopard national park in order to prevent poaching, forest fires and other violations and crimes on the assigned territory. The rangers focused on making night ambushes near salt licks using a decoy deer. There were no poachers in the park in the reported months and only a few minor violations were registered.

We hope that thanks to your continuous support we all be able to keep the numbers of Amur leopard growing!

One year old Amur leopard cub with an injured paw was found in the Land of the Leopard (LoL) National Park near the border with China. According to experts the leopard lost its fingers after getting into a poacher’s trap or a snare.

Russian border guards were the first who found the cub. They noticed a leopard tossing around one place not leaving the area. It was obvious that something was wrong with the animal. Having realized that, the border guards immediately reported about the incident to the national park authorities. The LoL staff arrived at the site shortly together with the specialists from the Primorsky Environmental Control Department (Rosprirodnadzor), WCS and the experts from Nadezhdinsky veterinary station.

Due to the injury the exhausted and frightened kitten would not let people to approach it but could not escape. It was clear that the animal will die without veterinary help. The experts decided to immobilize the cub and transported it to the wildlife rehabilitation center in Alekseevka village. Leopard’s examination showed that the four fingers on the front paw were missing and there was an inflammation around the wound. The cub had a fever heat when it got to the rehab and without treatment it could die within the few days. The poor leopard suffered due to the fault of poachers who placed their traps on the border. After the surgery the condition of the patient is satisfactory. Veterinarians from around the world are involved in the discussion on the further treatment for the animal. However, this cub will never return to the wild because it lost the ability to hunt successfully without the fingers and claws.

With your donations the Phoenix Fund will continue to provide support to the anti-poaching teams of the Land of the Leopard National Park to ensure safety of the rare cats at least within the borders of the protected area. 

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.


Information by the Far Eastern Lepard Programme

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Organization Information

Phoenix Fund

Location: Vladivostok, Primorski Krai - Russia
Project Leader:
Sergei Bereznuk
Vladivostok, Primorsky krai Russia
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