Numbers of rare leopard up in Russia

March 15, 2013 at 6:04 PM

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, March 15 (UPI) -- Conservationists in Russia report the number of rare Amur leopards in the country's far east Primorsky Territory have increased by almost half.

From just 35 leopards living in the territory's southwest region in 2007, a count in February numbered just below 50, ITAR-Tass reported Friday.

"But even 50 are very few. When there are 70–100, then one can say that the species is not endangered," Sergei Aramilev of the Amur regional organization of the World Wildlife Fund said in the territory's capital of Vladivostok.

For two days, conservationists followed tracks of leopards and registered them all over the southwest of the Primorsky Territory, combining that date with the results of photo monitoring and the DNA analysis.

Amur leopards are among the rarest species, inhabiting about 1,900 square miles around the Chinese, North Korean and Russian borders.

In the past 50 years, the area of their population has decreased by half, conservationists said.

Russia has taken measures in recent years to protect the rare animals, and more than half of the leopard-populated area is now within the recently created Land of Leopard national park, which occupies almost 700,000 acres.

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