After a long pause during the spring and autumn season when the hidden cameras couldn’t record presence of a leopard at the Olenevod deer farm in Khasan, the good news came – camera traps finally caught female leopard Sophie, her kitten and a male leopard. Now the experts will compare new photos with hundreds of others available in a database to define who is visiting Sophie. Old or new guests?
The owner of the farm Alexander Khudenko was also excited about the new photographs of the leopards. These photographs allowed him to receive a promised compensation from the Phoenix Fund for a long-term presence of the animal on the farm’s land. The compensation for seven months from May to November amounted in a rather big sum of money – 105 thousand rubles ($3,500)!
It is to be recalled that for more than two years the female Amur leopard Sophie lives in close proximity to one of the deer farms located in the Khasansky district of Primorye. Such neighborship is unfavorable to the owner because the animal uses his territory as the hunting site. Therefore, the farmer suffers constant damage from leopard’s presence.
To solve the conflict between the man and the animal the Phoenix Fund together with the Institute of environmental problems and evolution of A.N. Severtsov of the Russian Academy of Sciences developed a special program which helps to maintain tolerant relation of the farmers towards rare predators. The main difference of this program from paying compensation to the owner of cattle for the damage caused by a predator is that every month the farmer receives a fixed sum of money for the fact of leopard’s presence in close proximity to his territory.
The information on leopard’s presence in the territory of the deer farm at the beginning was gathered by scientists through the coordinates received from Sophie’s radio collar, and later, when the batteries on the collar ran down – through the photos made with photo traps. Conservationists hope that this project will help cultivate tolerance among locals towards rare and beautiful wild cats, and also will make them proud to be living in the neighborhood with such unique animals.
This project became possible thanks to support from Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and ALTA (Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance).
Photo credits: A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences