Elusive cats in our backyards: persistence of the North Chinese leopard (Panthera pardus japonensis) in a human-dominated landscape in central China.
Integrative Zoology 00: 1–17.
The North Chinese leopard (Panthera pardus japonensis), the least‐known big cat, disappeared in most historical range for decades, following the development of modern civilization. Unfortunately, we have scarce knowledge about the status of this big cat so far, apart from anecdotal reports. In this study, we investigated density, distribution and habitat use of leopard, the apex predator, in a complex forest landscape in the Loess Plateau. We used a camera‐trapping network to obtain population estimates for leopards over two years through spatially explicit capture‐recapture models (SECR). Our results, based on maximum likelihood and Bayesian / MCMC methods, reveal that the largest wild population of the leopard was found widely distributed in remnant forests in central Loess plateau. The population is increasing in our study area, and the density of leopards (1.70 (SE = 0.48)‐2.40 (SE = 0.67) / 100 km²) is higher than other areas of China. According to the analysis of two seasonal occupancy models, prey species drive partially the leopard habitat use, predicting that the big cat thrives from the recovery of prey community*. However, human disturbances, especially oil wells, seems to have negative impacts on the habitat use of leopards. Specifically, it is necessary to joint efforts by the government and researchers to improve human disturbances management and prey species population density, as well as strengthen the investment in research on the North China Leopard, which could all further strengthen protection ability and ensure the long‐term survival of this species.
*The leopard prey species include the Siberian roe deer (Capreolus pygargus), the wild boar (Sus scrofa), as well as some small mammals such as the Asian badger (Meles leucurus) and the Tolai hare (Lepus tolai).
Evolutionary history and conservation significance of the Javan leopard Panthera pardus melas.
Journal of Zoology. Version of Record online: 3 MAY 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jzo.12348 (zu diesem Zeitpunkt gedruckte Version noch nicht verfügbar)
The leopard Panthera pardus is widely distributed across Africa and Asia; however, there is a gap in its natural distribution in Southeast Asia, where it occurs on the mainland and on Java but not on the interjacent island of Sumatra. Several scenarios have been proposed to explain this distribution gap. Here, we complemented an existing dataset of 68 leopard mtDNA sequences from Africa and Asia with mtDNA sequences (NADH5 + ctrl, 724 bp) from 19 Javan leopards, and hindcasted leopard distribution to the Pleistocene to gain further insights into the evolutionary history of the Javan leopard. Our data confirmed that Javan leopards are evolutionarily distinct from other Asian leopards, and that they have been present on Java since the Middle Pleistocene. Species distribution projections suggest that Java was likely colonized via a Malaya-Java land bridge that by-passed Sumatra, as suitable conditions for leopards during Pleistocene glacial periods were restricted to northern and western Sumatra. As fossil evidence supports the presence of leopards on Sumatra at the beginning of the Late Pleistocene, our projections are consistent with a scenario involving the extinction of leopards on Sumatra as a consequence of the Toba super volcanic eruption (~74 kya). The impact of this eruption was minor on Java, suggesting that leopards managed to survive here. Currently, only a few hundred leopards still live in the wild and only about 50 are managed in captivity. Therefore, this unique and distinctive subspecies requires urgent, concerted conservation efforts, integrating in situ and ex situ conservation management activities in a One Plan Approach to species conservation management.
History of the Arabian leopard Captive Breeding Programme
Cat News Special Issue No. 1: 40-43. IUCN Cat Specialist Group. ISSN 1027-2992.
The Arabian leopard (Panthera pardus nimr) is highly endangered and captive breeding has therefore become an essential component of conservation for this species. The Captive Breeding Program has been operating in its present form since 1999 although the fi rst Arabian leopards registered in the studbook were caught in 1985. During the 1990’s additional institutions within the range states began to acquire leopards and the need for a coordinated breeding program became a priority. The Regional Studbook was fi rst published in its present form in 1999 and has been followed by several Conservation Assessment and Management workshops through which improved regional cooperation has been initiated. A large proportion of the captive population is wild caught, however, only half of these have produced offspring in captivity. To maximise genetic diversity in the captive population, it is essential that the unrepresented founder animals contribute to the breeding program.
23.12.2014 - 620
The Leopard in the Arabian Peninsula - Distribution an Subspecies Status
Cat News Special Issue No. 1: 4-8- IUCN Cat Specialist Group. ISSN 1027-2992.
Historically it was considered that there were four subspecies of leopards in the Arabian region. Today P. p.jarvisi no longer occurs and the ranges of P. p. tulliana and P. p. saxicolor have severely contracted north. Only P. p. nimr, the Arabian leopard, remains. Morphological data suggests nimr to be the smallest of the leopards and a distinct subspecies but this has yet to be conclusively confi rmed by genetic evidence. Recent records give a bleak picture of the status of P. p. nimr. A few individuals survive in the Judean Desert and Negev Highlands while in the Arabian Peninsula leopards are known from just one location in the Republic of Yemen and one in the Sultanate of Oman. In Yemen the leopards of the Al Wada’a area are under great pressure from killing and from capture for trade. In Oman the situation is much more hopeful and the leopards of the Dhofar Mountains have benefi ted from comprehensive conservation measures. While the possibility, however remote, of the existence of other relict populations cannot be ruled out the need for urgent conservation action across the region is obvious given the reality that the Arabian leopard may soon be reduced to two, or even just one population in the wild.
23.12.2014 - 694
Leopard - Panthera pardus.
Cat News Special Issue 5, Autumn 2010: Cats in China: 30-33. IUCN Cat Specialist Group, ISSN 1027-2992.
In Asia, the leopard was originally widely distributed south of about 45°N. Across southwest and central Asia, leopard populations are small, separated and isolated; distribution and present status is however poorly known in most central Asiatic countries. Leopards are believed to be still relatively abundant in the forests of the Indian sub-continent, through Southeast Asia and into China, although they are becoming increasingly rare outside protected areas. In China, they are still present throughout the east, centre and south. In the 1950s, national campaigns to eradicate pest animals – including tigers and leopards – had a considerable impact on the populations, mainly in the south. Based on purchased skins, 2,000–3,000 leopards were killed each year during the mid 1950s. The Critically Endangered Amur leopard has been reduced to a very small population in Russia, China, and possibly North Korea. The 2007 census revealed 25–34 animals remaining in the wild. Although P. p. orientalis is extremely rare compared to the other subspecies, we know much more about leopards in northeastern China than about those in the rest of the country, because the Amur leopard has received much attention and has also profited from field research and conservation activities focussing on Siberian tigers.
Handel mit Fellen von Großkatzen und die Abklärung der Unterartenfrage beim Leoparden in Afghanistan.
Universität zu Köln, Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät, Zoologisches Institut
Betreuung: Der Professor Dr. Gunther Nogge
Über insgesamt vier Jahre wurde auf afghanischen Bazaren das Angebot an gefleckten Katzenfellen, insbesondere Leoparden und Schneeleoparden, kontrolliert. Im Jahre 2004 wurden in Kabuler Geschäften insgesamt 28 Leopardenfelle angekauft und 21 zum Durchschnittspreis von 825 $ verkauft. Im selben Jahr wurden 25 Schneeleopardenfelle angekauft und 19 zu einem mittleren Preis von 583 $ weiter verkauft. 2006 wurden schon bei einer einzigen Kontrolle doppelt so viele Leopardenfelle zum Kauf angeboten wie 2004 im ganzen Jahr. Auch die Preise lagen bei einem Mittel von 1037 $ rund 20 % höher als zwei Jahre zuvor. Ebenso lag das Angebot an Schneeleopardenfellen mit 21 höher als 2004 und der Durchschnittspreis betrug 652 $. Im Jahre 2007 lagen alle Werte auf dem Niveau von 2006. Als Kunden treten ausnahmslos Ausländer auf. Die Erhebungen in Mazar-e-Sharif, Kunduz, Takhar und Faiz Abad 2004, 2006 außerdem in Baharak und Ishkashem in der Provinz Badakhshan ergaben, dass es auch dort einen, zwar nicht so umfangreichen, aber regelmäßigen Handel mit gefleckten Katzenfellen gibt. Der interessanteste Fund war der eines Gepardenfelles in Mazar-e-Sharif, dem ersten Nachweis für diese Art seit 35 Jahren. Durch die Erhebungen konnte nachgewiesen werden, dass der Leopard in seinem gesamten afghanischen Verbreitungsgebiet noch existiert. Allerdings lassen sie keine Aussagen über die Größe der Bestände im Freiland und deren Bedrohung durch die Jagd zu. Im Gegensatz dazu liegen für den Schneeleoparden Bestandsschätzungen aus jüngster Zeit vor, wonach insgesamt noch 100 bis 200 Tiere dieser Art in Afghanistan leben sollen. Gibt man diese Zahlen sowie die jährlichen Umsätze an Schneeleopardenfellen auf den Bazaren in eine Existenzgefährdungsanalyse (Population and Habitat Viability Analysis) ein, kommt man zu der alarmierenden Prognose, dass der Schneeleopard in Afghanistan innerhalb von zehn Jahren ausgerottet sein wird. Um die in Afghanistan vorkommenden gefleckten Katzen besser zu schützen, bedarf es erstens eines besseren Vollzugs der bestehenden Gesetze und zweitens einer Bewusstseinskampagne bei den potentiellen Käufern, den in Afghanistan lebenden Ausländern. In einem weiteren Teil dieser Arbeit sollte die Unterartenfrage der Leoparden in Afghanistan geklärt werden. Von den 27 beschriebenen Unterarten sollen vier auf afghanischem Gebiet vorkommen. Aufgrund einer molekularbiologischen Revision der Art kommt in Afghanistan allerdings nur eine einzige Unterart, Panthera pardus saxicolor, vor. Zur Klärung der Unterartenfrage waren die Felle auf den Bazaren vermessen worden. Die Auswertung ergab, dass die Leoparden in Afghanistan zwar die größten ihrer Art sind. Eine weitere Differenzierung nach der Herkunft innerhalb Afghanistans war jedoch nicht möglich. Ebenso fragwürdig erscheint die traditionelle Aufteilung in Unterarten aufgrund der Fellzeichnung. Im Gegensatz zu den publizierten molekularbiologischen Untersuchungen standen hier nicht nur Proben von Zootieren, sondern auch von Wildfängen zur Verfügung. Die eigenen Befunde bestätigen, dass alle Leoparden Irans und Afghanistans derselben Unterart angehören. Lediglich nach Ostafghanistan reicht das Verbreitungsgebiet des indischen Leoparden, Panthera pardus .fusca, hinein. Das Zuchtbuch der Zoopopulation des persischen Leoparden wurde analysiert. Die gesamte Population geht auf wenige Gründertiere zurück, die Mitte der fünfziger Jahre aus Iran und Ende der sechziger Jahre aus Afghanistan importiert wurden. Um Inzucht zu vermeiden, wurden die iranische und die afghanische Linien im Laufe der Zeit vermischt. In allen mehr als hundert heute in den Zoos lebenden persischen Leoparden fließt Blut eines 1968 aus Kabul nach Köln importierten Weibchens. Die Vermischung der beiden Linien wird durch die genetischen Befunde nachträglich gerechtfertigt. Allerdings sollte man die jüngst aus dem Kaukasus in die Zoopopulation importierten Tiere einem genetischen Test unterziehen, bevor sie endgültig in die Population integriert werden.
Over a time of four years the bazars of Afghanistan were surveyed for furs of spotted wild cats, in particular leopards and snowleopards. In 2004 in Kabul a total of 28 furs of leopards were purchased by shopkeepers and 21 sold at an average price of 825 $. In the same year 25 furs of snowleopards were purchased and 19 sold to clients at an average price of 583 $. In 2006 at a single inspection double as many furs of leopards were found to be offered for sale in comparison to the whole year of 2004. Also prices had increased over the two years by 20 % to an average of 1037 $. Similarly the number of furs of snowleopards at 21 pieces was higher than in 2004, and the prices had increased to an average of 652 $. In 2007 numbers and prices were on the same level of 2006. Clients were without any exception foreigners. Surveys in 2004 in Mazar-e-Sharif, Kunduz, Takhar and Faiz Abad, in 2006 additionally in Baharak and Iskashem in the province of Badakhshan, revealed a regular trade in furs of spotted cats, however not as extensive as in Kabul. The most interesting finding was a fur of a cheetah in Mazar-e-Sharif, the first record of this species after 35 years. From the surveys can be concluded that leopards still exist in the whole range of its distribution area in Afghanistan. However they don't allow any conclusion on the population size and its threat by hunting. In contrast to the leopard there exists a recent estimation of the population size of the snowleopard, saying that there are still 100 to 200 snowleopards living in Afghanistan. On the basis of these figures as well as the numbers of furs traded annually a Population and Habitat Viability Analysis was conducted. The result of this analysis is alarming. It has to be assumed that the snowleopard will be extinct in Afghanistan within the next ten years. To improve the protection of spotted cats in Afghanistan it needs both, a better implementation of the existing legislation as well as an awareness campaign among potential clients, i. e. foreigners living in Afghanistan. The second part of this thesis deals with the question of subspecies of leopards in Afghanistan. Out of the 27 subspecies descibed four are believed to exist in Afghanistan. However, according to a molecularbiological revision of the species there occurs only one subspecies in Afghanistan, Panthera pardus saxicolor. To clarify the subspecies question various measures of furs had been taken in the bazars. The results revealed that the leopards in Afghanistan are the biggest of its species. However a further differentiation according to the area of origin within the country was not possible. Also the traditionell differentiation on the basis of colours and patterns on the furs was not possible. In contrast to the molecularbiological investigations published not only samples of zoo animals were available in this study but also samples from the wild. The own results confim that almost all leopards from Afghanistan and Iran belong to one and the same subspecies. Only in the most eastern part of Afghanistan, the Indian leopard, Panthera pardus fusca, can be found. The International Studbook for the Persian Leopard was analysed. The whole population derives from a few founder animals, which were imported in the midth fifties from Iran and in the late sixties from Afghanistan. To avoid inbreeding lateron the Iranian and the Afghan lines were mixed. A female imported in 1968 from Kabul to Cologne is represented in each of the more than 100 today living animals.Mixing the two lines subsequently is justified by the genetic results of this study. Recently acquired animals from the Caucasus, however, should be tested genetically before integrating them into the zoopopulation.
From the Zoo back to Nature - Breeding Management from the IUCN's Perspective
In: P. Dollinger (ed.) Verh.ber. Rigi-Symposum 2: 44-46.
Die IUCN Richtlinien für Wiederansiedlungen nennen folgenden Voraussetzungen für die Freisetzung von Zootieren:
- Das Taxon oder eine Population ist in Freiheit ausgestorben oder kritisch gefährdet.
- Es stehen keine Tiere aus der freien Wildbahn für eine Wiederansiedlung oder Aufstockung zur Verfügung.
- Die Zootiere sind genetisch und ethologisch für die Freilassung geeignet.
- Die Verwendung von Zootieren ist Teil eines umfassenden und koordinierten Erhaltungsprogramms.
- Die ausgesetzten Individuen und die sich daraus entwickelnde Populationen werden überwacht.
Von den drei europäischen Katzenarten wurden Wildkatzen und Eurasische Luchse aus Zoos für Aussetzungen verwendet, die Wiederansiedlung von gezüchteten Pardelluchsen ist geplant. Die Erhaltung des Pardelluchses ist nur noch über ein Zuchtprogramm möglich. Die Bedingungen für das Aussetzen von zoogeborenen Eurasischen Luchsen sind weder in Gefangenschaft noch im Freiland erfüllt. Die Freisetzung von Wildkatzen aus Zoos ist ambivalent. Die Zootiere scheinen geeignet, aber die Überwachung der freilebenden Tiere ist ungenügend.
The IUCN Guidelines list the following conditions for the re-introduction of zoo animals:
- The taxon or a population is extinct in the wild or is critically endangered.
- There are no wild animals available for a re-introduction or re-stocking.
- The zoo animals are genetically and ethologically suitable for release.
- The use of zoo animals is part of an extensive and coordinated preservation programme.
- The released animals and the developing populations are supervised.
Out of the three European cats, wildcats, and European lynxes from zoos have been used for re-introductions. The release of bred Iberian lynxes is planned. The conservation of the Iberian lynx is only possible with the help of breeding programmes. The conditions for re-introducing zoo-bred Eurasian lynxes are neither fulfilled in captivity nor in the wild. The release of wildcats from zoos is ambivalent. Zoo animals seem to be suitable. However, the supervision of free-living animals is insufficient.
04.06.2014 - 709
Unterartenfrage Persischer Leoparden geklärt
Der Zoologische Garten 81, (1): 1- 13, ISSN 0044-5169
The Studbook for the Persian Leopard, Panthera pardus saxicolor, was analyzed. The whole population derives from a few founder animals, imported in the midth fifties from Iran and in the late sixties from Afghanistan. To avoid inbreeding later on the Iranian and the Afghan lines were mixed. A female imported in 1968 from Kabul to Cologne is represented in each of the more than 100 animals living today.
This study deals with the question of subspecies of leopards in Afghanistan. Out of the 27 subspecies described four are believed to exist in Afghanistan. However, according to a molecular-biological revision of the species there is only one subspecies in Afghanistan, Panthera pardus saxicolor. To clarify the subspecies question various measures of furs have been taken in the bazars. The results revealed that the leopards in Afghanistan are the biggest of its species. However a further differentiation according to the area of origin within the country was not possible. Also the traditional differentiation on the basis of colours and patterns on the furs was not possible.
In contrast to the molecular-biological investigations published, not only samples of zoo animals were available in this study but also samples from the wild. The results confirm that almost all leopards from Afghanistan and Iran belong to one and the same subspecies. Only in the most eastern part of Afghanistan, the Indian leopard, Panthera pardus fusca, can be found.
Mixing the two lines subsequently is justified by the results of this study. Recently acquired animals from the Caucasus, however, should be tested genetically before integrating them into the zoo population.
Siehe auch: MANATI, A. R. (2008)
Leopards for the Caucasus - Editorial
Cat News 56: 03. IUCN Cast Specialist Group. ISSN 1027-2992.
In May 2012, IUCN/SSC and EAZA, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation to cooperate in a project to reintroduce the leopard into the Caucasian Biosphere Reserve. The reserve is an UNESCO World Heritage Site (IUCN Ia) and one of Russia’s oldest protected areas. It was declared a Zapovednik (strictly protected area) in 1924 and was already a hunting preserve under the tsar. The Biosphere Reserve, neighbouring Sochi National Park (IUCN II) and adjacent refuges stretch over about 6000 km². It is the most natural and most beautiful mountainous landscape of temperate forest in Europe I have ever seen.
The leopard reintroduction project has become known as part of the environmental programme of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games – and has been criticised as such. As a matter of fact, the idea is much older, but materialised only with the financial support from the 2014 Games. The Sochi leopard breeding centre was built, and now hosts two male leopards from Turkmenistan and two female leopards from Iran. Indeed, the transfer of the Iranian leopards bases on a high-level agreement between Russia and Iran to exchange tigers against leopards for reintroduction projects. A tiger breeding centre is presently constructed in northern Iran to host the Siberian tigers received from Russia. IUCN/SSC and its Cat Specialist Group were asked from the environmental agencies of both countries to advice on these projects – and we are committed to do so.
The leopard is the number one flagship species for conservation in the Caucasus, a region listed among the biodiversity hot spots of the world. In 2007, the IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group was invited by WWF to facilitate the development of the “Strategy for the Conservation of the Leopard in the Caucasus Ecoregion”. Three of the six countries sharing the Caucasus have since implemented the Strategy by means of National Action Plans: Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. Turkey has endorsed the Strategy, but not taken further action so far; there is no proof that the leopard still exists in the Turkish part of the Caucasus. Actually, the situation of the leopard in the Caucasus seems to be more critical than assumed five years ago when the Strategy was developed. There are infrequent leopard observations in southern Armenia and southern Azerbaijan, but these might be animals dispersing from northern Iran, the only area with confirmed leopard presence and reproduction in the past years. However, the status of the population in the Caucasian provinces of Iran is not well known either, and there is no evidence that the north-western nuclei are still connected to the populations further south (Zagros Mountains) or further east (Alborz Mountains).
Considering the dire situation of the Caucasian leopard, the Sochi reintroduction project could be an important part of a long-term recovery plan. The first priority must be the strict protection of the source population in the south (Iranian part of the Caucasus). The creation a new population in the north-west could facilitate the recolonisation of the entire ecoregion. The Caucasian Biosphere Reserve is clearly the best-suited area in the ecoregion. But in the long term, an isolated population there will remain vulnerable, considering the fact that the north-western Caucasus was always the edge of the distribution area of the species. Hence preparing the central areas in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey for the return of the leopard either from the south or the north is another important step.
The EAZA Felid TAG and the IUCN Cat Specialist Group have suggested using Persian leopards from the EAZA EEP for the breeding programme in Sochi. First, breeding wild-caught leopards might be difficult, and second, we recommend first assessing the status of the leopard in Iran and developing a National Action Plan before removing leopards for a conservation breeding programme. In the long term, the integration of north-west Iranian leopards into the breeding pool is surely welcome.
The project and the cooperation will now go ahead. It is without any doubt a most challenging project. The 2014 Games will be a first checkpoint, with a wold-wide and high-level attentiveness. This is both a burden and an opportunity.