VLADIVOSTOK, April 11 (Itar-Tass) —— The Leopard Land Nature Park has been created in the Primorye territory with a Russian government resolution, press secretary of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Amur branch Yelena Starostina told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.
She said the park would stretch out for 262,000 hectares in southwestern areas of Primorye and cover 60% of the habitat of the remaining 35 Far Eastern leopards.
There will be four zones in the Nature Park, among them nature conservancy zone of 30,000 hectares on the Borisovskoye Plateau with the most important part of the leopard habitat. More than 120,000 hectares will be assigned for the protection both the leopard and the state border. There will be 38,000 hectares in agricultural land and military sites, and 72,000 hectares of recreation and tourism areas.
The Leopard Land Nature Park will share a directorate with the Kedrovaya Pad’ Nature Reserve. The federal budget assigns 40 million rubles in annual funding of the new nature park and almost 500 million rubles for the development of its infrastructure.
The Far Eastern leopard is one of the rarest species of wild felines. It inhabits a limited territory in southwestern areas of Primorye. Over the past 20 years the leopard habitat has almost shrink but the number of animals dipped to a critically low level of only 35.
The main causes of the reducing Far Eastern leopard population are the human activity and the shrinking habitat, which is caused by logging and illegal construction of homes.
Russian scientists control almost all the Far Eastern leopards now. A program of leopard monitoring with Glonass was started up in fall 2011.