Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Caucasian Leopard in Armenia: daytime images

29 August, 2013 - 10:41 -- World Land Trust
Caucasian Leopard © Misad Dreamstime.com

Less than two months after a remote camera caught a tantalising glimpse of a Caucasian Leopard in the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge (CWR), a second video taken in daylight has provided even more striking leopard images.

Staff at the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC), World Land Trust’s (WLT) conservation partner in Armenia, believe the footage is of a male Caucasian Leopard and hope that there will soon be a recording of a female leopard in the same area.

"The leopard exists and it is now a fact that he has chosen this area as a safe haven,” said Ruben Khachatryan, Director of FPWC.

Manuk Manukyan, FPWC’s Coordinator of Conservation Projects, reports that one of FPWC’s rangers actually saw a leopard on one of the CWR’s many mountain slopes in the past week.

"It disappeared as suddenly as it appeared,” said Manuk “so the ranger couldn’t ascertain whether it was male or female.” FPWC's rangers are supported by WLT's Keepers of the Wild programme.

Mary McEvoy, WLT’s Conservation Programmes Manager (Africa & Asia Regions), commented on the images: “The leopard’s markings are clear which will help differentiate this leopard from any others recorded in the future. The camera-traps have been well placed and we are optimistic that more images will be forthcoming.”

WLT is currently appealing for funds to save the Caucasian Leopard. “The evidence is incontrovertible,” said Mary, “and if the Caucasian Leopard is to survive in the wild in Armenia, WLT’s ongoing support for FPWC’s conservation work is vital. I am hopeful that these images will inspire more people to donate to this special appeal and allow FPWC to continue their vital work saving and protecting leopard habitat.”

First leopard video verified

Meanwhile, Dr Victor S Lukarevsky, Senior Scientific Researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences and an expert on big cat ecology, has authenticated the video recording made in early July, which tantalisingly shows just the tail of a leopard.

In a recent report on the video's authenticity, Dr Lukarevsky explains how the tail of the animal is tensed and then relaxed, an action which would be extremely difficult to counterfeit. He concludes that the action is suggestive of a natural posture for defecating, urinating or marking territory.

For a brief period in July the video of the leopard's tail went viral, causing an unprecedented number of visits to WLT's YouTube site.

More information

Comments

Submitted by Dominic Belfield on

I reckon this cat's playing with us.

First, the tail.

Then, the body and the tail.

Next time, well - do you think we'll get to see the head and whiskers too ?

Submitted by Mary McEvoy on

Dear Dominic,

We certainly hope we’ll get to see this striking leopard’s head and whiskers next time too! He knows how to keep us all on the edge of our seats.

The reason we’re missing the beginning of the videos is because the model of camera that FPWC are using only starts recording five seconds after it is triggered, hence it misses the start of the animal walking past. The good news is that FPWC are going to be installing different cameras with a much shorter lag time – that way we should capture footage of the whole animal!  Do keep watching the website and YouTube channel for more updates.

Best wishes,
Mary

Conservation Programmes Manager (Africa & Asia Regions)
World Land Trust

Submitted by Richard Thair on

The leopard appears to be limping, as though it has a problem with one of its rear feet.

Submitted by Mary McEvoy on

Dear Richard,

Yes - we also noted that the leopard appears to be limping. FPWC have installed more cameras in the area in the hope that we will get more footage and be able to identify the cause of the limp and monitor the situation.

Submitted by Matt on

This is very exciting! I've spent some time in Armenia helping with a viper project and I only wished I could've seen a leopard.

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