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Russia to probe death of rare leopard

Jan. 5, 2012 at 12:52 PM
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VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Russian conservation experts say they've launched an investigation into the death of a rare Amur leopard, one of only an estimated 40 left in the wild.

Poaching is believed to be the most likely cause of the leopard's death, although a team of conservationists will look at other possible causes such as starvation and a fatal fight with another predator, a spokesman for the Russian Academy of Sciences' wildlife study project told RIA Novosti Thursday.

The remains of the leopard, dubbed Uzor (Pattern) by conservation specialists, were found in the Leopardovy natural reserve in southern Primorye in the Russian Far East, the spokesman said.

The animal was fitted with a satellite-tracking collar in September 2011 as part of the Academy of Sciences' study of the endangered and elusive leopards.

The Amur leopard, also known as the Manchurian, or Far Eastern leopard, is one of the rarest large cats in the world, listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

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