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.