Project #6144

Help Save Last 30 Amur Leopards from Extinction

by Phoenix Fund

Th year 2012 started with an intense work of the South anti-poaching team that patrolled the core leopard breeding area. In total in January the team conducted 27 anti-poaching checks including joint patrols with gamekeepers of adjacent hunting estates across the territory of both Kedrovaya Pad nature reserve and Leopardovy wildlife refuge. The inspectors carried out vehicle patrols along with foot patrols during the day time but also laid ambushes at nights.  

Absence of snow in the southern part of Leopardovy wildlife refuge and in adjacent territories caused periodical forest ignitions. Three forest fires were put out on the territory of Lebyazhya lagoon outside the nature reserve and in Leopardovy refuge around railway station Pozharsky. The inspectors successfully suppressed all ignitions preventing significant loss in wildlife and leopard habitat.

The expected splash of poaching on a southern part of the wildlife refuge and reserve was not registered. During the spot-checks no infringers involved in illegal hunting were detained. But nevertheless rare presence of people in territory of the PA was revealed. On January 22, an abandoned rifle was found near a river head of the Poima river. Most likely, the given weapon was dumped by poachers after they noticed the patrol car from towering hills. Also the fresh tracks of people were found on the northern slopes. The weapon was handed over to Khasansky Police department for the further trial and detection of the owner of the gun.

The leader of the team Evgeny Stoma explains the low numbers of poaching citations in the reported month: “First of all, certainly, this indicates a poaching decrease in southern territory. Those poachers groups that continue to conduct illegal hunting at wildlife refuge territories became even more careful. And detention of such organized groups requires a long and thorough preparation in which the South team is now actively engaged.”

New team places reserve sign
New team places reserve sign

We hope all of our supportes are doing well and would like to inform you about the creation of new anti-poaching team within the law-enforcement service of Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve and Leopardovy Wildlife Refuge (KP). In October 2011, a newly established "Border team" of 5 inspectors started to patrol the protected area (PA). It's very good news that KP inspectors can now patrol the PA along and behind its boarder. One of the key points was that the Border group will work with MIST patrol monitoring system. The team has two vehicles and Grizzly ATV. It is partially secured with equipment but there are lots of what is needed for the team to conduct their activities at full capacity. We would appreciate your continuos support of our important project.

Meanwhyle, in November, the South team continued anti-poaching work and to conducted 26 anti-poaching patrols  on the southern part of Leopardovy Wildlife Refuge and adjacent territories. Most of the patrols were carried out on foot at daytime. During the first half of the month the team continued putting out forest fires inside the protected area and on adjoining territories. Additionally, the team members read lectures at local school to foster positive children’s attitude towards nature.

On November 16, during a routine patrol near the Brusya river the team spotted footprints left by two persons on fresh blanket of clean white snow. After a 4-hour pursuit, the inspectors detained two residents of Slavyanka with a smoothbore, cartridges, backpack and a knife.  The detainees were taken to Kasansky police station for further investigation. Later it was determined that the men were brought to the protected area by a traffic police officer. The case is still under investigation. No more violations were revealed by the team in November. In general, the autumn 2011 was rather calm season; however after first snow fallen in the second half of November more and more people directed their steps into the forest. The team decided to increase the frequency of patrols in order to prevent or reveal trespassing.

During a foot patrol near Bomburovo railway station the inspectors found tracks left by two tigers (9-cm and 11.5-cm paw width). Also, they discovered leopard tracks (7 cm paw width) on the roadside.

In October, the South team carried out 26 anti-poaching patrols on the southern territories of Leopardovy Wildlife Refuge, south-west area of Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve and on adjacent hunting estates Bezverhovskoe and Slavyanskoe. The team carried out patrols both at night, and in the afternoon, mainly along the spawning rivers Narva, Poima and Brusiya, passing on a Leopardovy Refuge. Several ambushes were laid to reveal and prevent illegal hunting. Also the team worked on wildfire suppression.

During the reported period numerous infringements were revealed in the course of patrol work. The inspectors issued 11 citations for violating the Rules of Protection and Use of Natural Resources on Areas under Special Protection. However, according to the leader of the team Eugine Stoma, general situation, for the accounting period, in a southern part of Leopardovy Refuge territory was orderly. It can be explained by raised awareness of local people about the increased security of the PA that is well patrolled almost every day during the month. Therefore, presence of people and illegal salmon fishing in spawning rivers has decreased significantly comparing to previous years.

As far as we know from collected information and long-term experience”, says Eugine Stoma, -“I can tell that that part of the locals which used to hunt illegally in the protected area now are engaged illegal fishing of salmon and trepang gathering in the sea. Thereby illegal hunting was possibly postponed for later period.”

On October 2, the team was extinguishing fire in a Poima riverhead which begun from railroad, where hours before, railway workers burned old ties. The ignition was extinguished within one day. Also from October 9 to October 19, the inspectors fought forest fires in Leopardovy Wildlife Refuge, on territories of Bezverhovsky military range, and in the center of Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve. Most of the ignitions were extinguished immediately.

During the foot patrol along the Narva river a track of tiger with 9.5 cm paw was spotted.

On October 3, a conflict situation that took place in Gamov deer farm was investigated. The inspectors ascertained that three deer were killed by a group of leopards that inhabit the territory next to deer farm for many years.

Also in October, the South team visited schools in Kraskino and Khasan to conduct lessons for children fostering an attitude of care towards nature.

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.


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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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