In this file photo, a Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is seen at Colchester Zoo, England. (Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)
Washington, July 15 (IANS): Scientists estimate that only 84 Amur leopards, a highly endangered species, are left in the wild across its current range in Russia and China.
This new estimate of the Amur leopard population was reported in the latest issue of journal Conservation Letters by scientists from China, Russia, and the US, reports Xinhua news agency.
They combined forces to collate information from camera traps on both sides of the border of China and Russia to derive the estimate.
Because there are no records of leopards in other parts of its former range, this estimate represents the total global population of this subspecies in the wild, according to them.
Anya Vitkalova, a biologist at Land of the Leopard National Park in Russia said: “We knew that leopards moved across the border, but only by combining data were we able to understand how much movement there really is.”
Despite the movement, there were differences in population dynamics in Russia versus China.
Leopards are currently recolonising habitat in China by dispersing from the Russian side, where leopard numbers appear to be close to the maximum that can be supported.
Therefore, because of these transboundary movements of leopards, simply adding results from both sides would have greatly exaggerated the estimate.
Dale Miquelle, a co-author and Tiger Programme Coordinator for the Wildlife Conservation Society said: “This first rigorous estimate of the global population of the Amur leopard represents an excellent example of the value of international collaboration.”