Far Eastern leopards have got their own pedigree

Far Eastern leopards have got their own pedigree

Source: Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation
Russian scientists have investigated the family ties within the population of the Far Eastern leopard and compiled a family tree for more than a hundred individuals in the national park "Land of the Leopard". The data reveal new details about the settlement of these red-book predators in the wild in Primorye. This was reported by the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia on its website.

"Researchers of the National Park systematized data on individual kinship relationships in the population. It was possible to simulate the tree for more than a hundred individuals out of almost 300 registered since the beginning of monitoring on the "Land of the Leopard". The analysis of the "family chronicle" showed that the tree branches into ten separate lines, the largest of which included three generations of leopards at once," the report says.

As experts emphasize, these data are especially valuable because they open up new opportunities for studying changes within the population over generations. So, for example, you can get an idea of the settlement of leopard cubs in the wild after separation from their mother and find out at what age they begin independent life.

"During the research, scientists have managed to discover a number of interesting facts. For example, an analysis of data on a female numbered Leo 101F and her broods showed an unusual "gender" difference between cats. The kitten from her first brood – a female – remained on the maternal plot. And the kitten from the next one – Leo 252M named Martin Fierro – went 70 kilometers from his habitat with his mother, occupying a new site where leopards have not been seen for decades. Later this year, he received his name from Pope Francis," the Ministry of Natural Resources noted.

As explained in the National Park, the creation of a detailed pedigree is important, since detailed information is the basis for the competent management of the population and its preservation.

"It is not enough just to know the number of leopards living on our territory if we are talking about preserving one of the rarest big cats in the world," Taisiya Marchenkova, an employee of the science department of the Land of the Leopard Federal State Budgetary Institution, quotes the Ministry of Natural Resources.

The source for the analysis was a huge array of photomonitoring data collected by the Land of the Leopard for 10 years - since 2013. Its main purpose is to keep records of the number and track the state of the population. But with long-term studies, such data can provide much more information.

"The largest network of camera traps in Russia for monitoring red Book cats is located in the protected areas of the Land of the Leopard. The animals are monitored with more than 400 automatic cameras. Photomonitoring is one of the most effective non–invasive (contactless) methods for studying such rare and hidden animals as the leopard," the report says.

As noted in the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Far Eastern leopard is the rarest large cat on the planet. This is the most peaceful and northernmost subspecies of the leopard. A hundred years ago, these predators inhabited the entire Korean Peninsula and northeast China. But in the 20th century, hunting and fires in its range led the Far Eastern leopard to the brink of extinction.

"There were only 35 individuals left. Today, the population of this unique predator is protected by the "Land of the Leopard". There are 125 adult spotted predators here," the ministry said.
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