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First ecological tunnel to open in Russia late in March — Kremlin administration chief

March 15, 23:55 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, March 15 /TASS/. The first ecological tunnel, which will ease migration for wild animals, will open in Russia late in March, Kremlin Administration Chief Sergei Ivanov said on Tuesday.

"A milestone event will take place late in March at long last. The Narvinsky tunnel will open at last though with a significant delay," Ivanov, the head of the Supervisory Council of the Land of the Leopards national park, told a meeting of the Supervisory Council of the Far Eastern Leopards autonomous non-profit organization.

He explained that the tunnel’s construction had been protracted due to extremely difficult geological conditions. "Nevertheless, the almost 1-kilometer-long tunnel has been laid. It’s going to be the first ecological tunnel in Russia. It has been built on a highway, which crosses the national park," Ivanov went on to say.

"We have killed two birds with one stone: we have made road traffic safer because now the drivers will have to use a serpentine road to climb on the me climb on bald mountains on the one hand; on the other hand, wild animals have got free access to a migration route in the national park’s territory," the Kremlin administration chief said elaborating on importance of implementing this ecological project.

According to Ivanov, Russia has seen an increase of its Far Eastern leopard population from 30 to 80 species over the past five years. The animals are gaining weight. They feel safe, and their age of life is getting longer, he said adding the Far Eastern leopards and the Amur tigers had enough food.

"The situation is more than satisfactory. The leopards are getting fatter which is not very good for wild cats," the Kremlin administration chief told a meeting of the Far Eastern Leopards’ Supervisory Council on Tuesday.

He added that the number of poachers, the Far Eastern leopard’s worst and most serious enemies, had been on decline in recent years thanks to the effective work of environmental inspectors who are brilliantly equipped. "We can say that our animals are becoming less exposed to dangers coming from humans," Ivanov stressed.

"In these conditions, our cats are reproducing very well," the Kremlin administration chief went on to say.

"Nine [wild] kittens were born in one year for the first time in 2015. The leopards’ lifespan is also growing. Previously, scientists used to say that the age of life of wild leopards is 12 years. A 16-year-old leopard, named Alexei, has recently appeared at the Land of the Leopard national park, which now has three long-livers," Ivanov said.

He, however, noted that the growing leopard population had also brought some new problems. "The leopards which feel safe have started crossing the national park’s boundaries. Though not a single leopard attack on humans has been registered over the past 100 years, this dangerous beast can gladly eat domestic animals if there is a chance," Ivanov explained.

The Kremlin administration chief believes that a beautiful brand like the Far Eastern leopard cannot but create an additional stimulus to develop ecological tourism in the far eastern region.

The Far Eastern Leopards autonomous non-profit organization is planning to open a new ecological tourist route in 2016, including a visit to the Land of the Leopard national park.

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