For more than a year a female of Amur leopard named Sophie lives in close proximity of one of the deer farms located in the Khasansky district of Primorsky province. Such neighbourhood, of course, is not pleasant to the owner of the farm as the animal uses his territory as its hunting ground. The farmer suffers constant losses from leopard’s presence. Even more, we know that Sophie had two cubs last summer and need to feed them and teach them to hunt.
To avoid conflicts between leopards and the farmer Phoenix Fund together with A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences developed special programme which helps to establish tolerant relations between farmers and rare predators. The main difference of this programme from plain compensation payment to the owner of cattle for the damage caused by a predator is that the farmer receives a fixed monthly pay-off for the fact of leopard’s presence on the territory of the farm. Now the owner of the deer doesn’t have to call experts in case of depredation to fortify the kill. The current procedure is rather simple: if the leopard lives near the deer park – the owner receives money. It means that a leopard is safe and satiated, and ecologists are satisfied with the lack of conflicts. If the predator will disappear from the farm’s territory, the guaranteed monthly payments will stop, and the experts would have to examine the reasons of rare cat disappearance.
The fact of the leopard’s presence on the territory of the deer farm is confirmed every month by the scientists who receive signals from Sophie’s radio collar, or locate her by the photos from camera-traps. And then Phoenix Fund pays for a leopard’s dinner.
Conservationists hope that such projects will help to cultivate loyalty and tolerance among locals for rare and beautiful wild cats that live on one land with people.