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WWF says tiger, leopard populations in Russia relatively strong

"We have some 560 animals, which is close to the maximum under which tigers do not attack humans," a WWF official said

MOSCOW, March 4. /TASS/. Russian populations of big cats - tigers, leopards and snow leopards - are relatively strong, WWF Russia Conservation Policy Director Yevgeny Shvarts has told TASS.

"We can say that at least regarding tigers and leopards the situation in our country is indeed relatively good as compared to the rest of the world," the expert said on the occasion of the World Wildlife Day, celebrated on March 3.

"As far as tigers are concerned, the situation is good. We have some 560 animals, which is close to the maximum under which tigers do not attack humans," Shvarts said.

Speaking about Russia’s snow leopard population, the WWF official said that Russia only has "peripheral parts of larger populations in Mongolia and Kazakhstan."

"We are doing our best. Nevertheless, unpleasant situations still occur from time to time, which are clearly related to poaching," he said.

According to WWF estimates made in previous years, about 70-90 snow leopards were living in Russia in the wild. So far, there is no reason to speak about any decline except for the Sayano-Shushensky nature reserve, Shvarts said.

Speaking about the Far Eastern leopard, the WWF Russia conservation policy director said that "the situation has clearly improved," mostly due to the construction of the so-called leopard tunnel in the Leopard Land national park. The project allows the big cats to safely cross a busy highway that splits the nature reserve in two parts.

"Although I know that one or two animals were killed last year, but anyway this tunnel helped to significantly mitigate the negative impact," he said.

About eight years ago, the Far Eastern leopard was on the verge of extinction. To date, its population in Russia has more than doubled: from 29-32 to 72-78.