Checking the leopards’ spots
Monday 16 June 2008
One of ZSL’s many partnership projects is seeking to establish long-term wildlife disease monitoring capacity in the Russian Far East.
The Amur Leopard & Wildlife Health Project (ALWHP) is a partnership between the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Primorskaya State Agricultural Academy, Russia. It aims to provide veterinary training to Russian veterinarians and veterinary students
Alongside this work, the team are collecting and analysing samples from Amur leopards and other animals in order to establish the prevalence of wildlife disease in the region. The results of this work will form a basis for comparison with future surveys.
Amur leopard facts
With only 30 – 40 left in the wild, the Amur leopard, which is paler and has longer fur than its tropical relatives, is more endangered than any other leopard. They live in a small area in the Russian Far East between Vladivostok and the Sino-Russian border, in forests and woodlands.
Such a tiny population is very vulnerable to disturbance, disease, and natural disasters – so as well as protecting the existing wild leopards, ZSL and other concerned groups are working on plans to eventually reintroduce them at a second site.
Sika deer are their main prey, but they will also eat roe deer and other smaller mammals, or even the larger red deer and wild boar. Their survival in the wild is threatened by loss of forest – particularly through fire, and by illegal hunting of both leopards and their prey species.
Funding for this work is provided primarily by the UK government's Darwin Initiative, with additional support from AMUR, Wildlife Vets International, the Twycross Zoo Conservation and Welfare Fund and the Lucie Bergers Fund.