Very Rare Amur Leopard Breeding in China, Video Trap Finds

Camera traps in the Wangqing Nature Reserve in northeast China recorded footage of a female Amur leopard with two cubs, marking the first record of breeding by this critically endangered cat in China, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) confirmed today. “The cameras, located some 30 km (18 miles) away from the primary Amur leopard population on the Russia side of the China-Russia border, are part of a region-wide camera trap project conducted by the Forestry Bureau of Jilin Province,” the New York-based conservation charity said in a news statement.

“WCS has been working for more than a decade to improve conditions for leopards, including expanding and improving law enforcement efforts, educating government agencies, and working with local communities to improve livestock husbandry techniques that reduce human disturbance and conflict in leopard habitat. This evidence of reproduction shows that our efforts are paying off,” WCS said in its statement.

“This incredible find is important for two reasons. Firstly, it shows that our current efforts are paying off but, secondly, it shows that China can no longer be considered peripheral to the fate of both wild Amur Leopards and Tigers,” said Joe Walston, WCS Executive Director for Asia Programs. With a few key decisions by the government, China could become a major sanctuary for the species.”

World’s Most Endangered Big Cat

The Amur (or Far Eastern) leopard, it is the world’s most endangered big cat, with only 30-50 individuals left in the wild, WCS stated. “Cold and deep snows have prevented the leopard’s successful colonization farther north; while in the south, poaching and intensive development have practically eliminated leopards from China and Korea. Today these leopards are found only in a thin strip of land along the Russian-Chinese border.”

The WCS China Program runs camera trap monitoring at Hunchun Nature Reserve, 13 km (8 miles) southeast of Wangqing. Other partners in this project include World Wild Fund for Nature, the Feline Center of the State Forestry Administration, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (ALTA).

12418031_10153900711084116_8462971761216697621_nDavid Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.

He edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society’s mission and major initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world. More than 50,000 readers have participated in 10,000 conversations.

Braun also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship

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Meet the Author
More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn