Russian pipeline is death warrant for world's last 30 Amur Leopards
Friday 21 January 2005
The Zoological Society of London, ZSL, today expressed its disbelief and concern at the decision by the Russian Government to allow an oil pipeline to be built through the Kedrovya Pad nature reserve, home to the last 30 remaining wild Amur Leopards
ZSL learnt about the decision following a recent meeting between the Russian Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko and Japanese Foreign Minister. The pipeline is intended to transport oil from fields in central Siberia to the Japanese Sea.
It will run through the border zone of Kedrovya Pad, a protected area that was recently declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, in order to reach a terminal and oil refinery to be built at Bukhta Perevoznaya, at present a pristine stretch of coast. The pressure on these fragile ecosystems will be catastrophic, and we fear this will be the final death warrant for the rarest cat on earth.
ZSL is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity which has been working with AMUR and other partners in the region for a decade, supporting anti-poaching teams, scientific studies, local education and compensation schemes for farmers for lost stock.
Ironically, recent monitoring results show that the Amur leopard population had begun to recover, thanks to the efforts of conservation NGOs, including ZSL, which have invested more than 1.5 million dollars in Amur leopard conservation in the past 10 years.
"We feel the choice of this route for the pipeline will tip the balance for the last 30 Amur leopards - probably the rarest cat on the earth - and for many other endangered species in SW Primorye" said Sarah Christie, Conservation Programme Manager at ZSL and European Coordinator for the Amur leopard breeding programme. "The area is of global importance for biodiversity in terms of both land and sea and harbours fifteen percent of Russia's Red List species."
Sharon Miller, founder of AMUR the Anglo Russian charity which works closely with ZSL, comments:
"It will be a global catastrophe if the Amur leopard becomes the next big cat to go extinct and that seems highly likely with the proposed route of this pipeline.
Once the true environmental cost of this pipeline is taken into account the Russian Government will probably take all the steps necessary to redirect the pipeline along a less environmentally sensitive route. There are alternatives; another route slightly to the north was also considered, which would cause far less environmental damage.
In an age where the environment is increasingly of concern to us all I am sure that Russia will take the lead in the G8 to raise environmental protection high up the agenda, and by changing the route of this pipeline, this will be a significant demonstration of that commitment."
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Notes to editors
Amur leopard facts
Distribution: south-west Primorskii Krai, between Vladivostok and the Sino-Russian border.
Vital statistics: A male might weigh up to 50 kg; a female as little as 35 kg.
Prey: Mainly deer.
Habitat: Hills covered with mixed forests with a variety of trees, including Korean pine
Captive population: There are about 100 Amur leopards that are part of a co-ordinated conservation breeding programme throughout Europe.
- Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. ZSL runs London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, carries out scientific research in the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field conservation in other countries worldwide including Russia. www.zsl.org
- AMUR: an Anglo Russian charity set up in 2001 for the conservation of these Russian Amur tigers and leopards whose Patron is Sir Roderic Lyne, British Ambassador to the Russian Federation and Ilya Lagutenko, famous Russian pop star. So far it has raised nearly $300,000 towards conservation projects including funding anti-poaching and fire-fighting teams, biological education for kids in the Russian Far East and scientific research. www.amur.org.uk
Simon Rayner on 020 7449 6241