The leopards of Russia
By Cecily Morgan
From Shania Twain videos to high street stores, leopard prints are never hard to spot (no pun intended), but unfortunately some species of leopard, such as the Amur leopard, are. Characterised by their vivid spots and thick fur, Amur leopards may be the cutest big cats on earth, but they are also the rarest.
However, the WildCats Conservation Alliance is helping protect these stunning creatures by implementing anti-poaching initiatives and population monitoring. By monitoring the population in the Land of Leopard National Park (LLNP) in south-eastern Russia, which is home to 75% of the earth’s Amur leopard population, the charity is able to track and analyse how many of the leopards are in existence in the region.
The LLNP was established in 2012 in an effort to prevent this leopard’s extinction as it was thought that there were only 30 in existence at the time. The park encompasses what was previously two wildlife refuges and a nature reserve, as well as some new territory on the border between Russia and China.
The monitoring is done via camera trapping. A camera trap is a camera which is equipped with a motion sensor, meaning that the Amur leopards can be caught on camera in their natural habitat without the need for human involvement, a bit like Big Brother but with more civilised behaviour, and Critically Endangered Socks is helping fund this amazing monitoring project. Each pair of socks that is bought has the potential to power a camera trap for a week, meaning that buying just one pair of our beautiful socks will not only keep your feet toasty warm, but give this charity vital insight into the Amur leopard population.
Fortunately, the hard work from this charity, and the organisations which help fund it, is paying off, shown by the results of the latest camera-trapping census, which has put the number of Amur leopards in Russia at over 100 for the first time in decades. The census showed 84 adult leopards, 7 adolescents, and 12 cubs, so whilst they’re still critically endangered species, they are no longer on the brink of extinction, with a rising population and a future brighter than their golden fur.
So, whilst a leopard may not change its spots, you should consider changing your socks to a pair that can help a critically endangered species.