IDEA Founder – Leyla Aliyeva visited the Leopard Breeding and Rehabilitation Centre at Sochi National Park.
Ms. Aliyeva participated in the vaccination and health check up process of three newly born leopard cubs. Afterwards, she had a meeting with the head of the Autonomous Nonprofit Organisation (ANO) "Caucasian Nature Center", during which perspectives of the restoration of leopard populations in their historical natural habitats were discussed.
“Caucasian leopard once dwelled in wild nature of Azerbaijan; at this moment few species still occur in the remote mountainous regions of the region. Our country, just like the Russian Federation, realizes the importance of preserving this amazing predator and its return to the wild in the Caucasus mountains. We not only unite the borders, but also join a vector of conservation activities, including the implementation of the leopard reintroduction program. With joint efforts and attraction of best Russian and Azerbaijani specialists we can achieve significant results in the formation of a biologically stable leopard population in nature,” Leyla Aliyeva said.
During the vaccination of young cats that were born from parents Zadiga and Andrea in late June at the Center, a veterinarian along with the help of the staff separated the cubs from the mother to check their health, weigh and vaccinat them against infectious diseases. The cubs weigh 4.4 kg, 4.9 kg and 4.7 kg. “There are already six cats born at the Center this year – two females each having three cubs. Such an increase tells about a good physical and psychological well-being of animals that live here. Also, thanks to the new enclosures being constructed, there will now be enough place for the newborns to grow in good conditions which will resemble their natural environment as close as possible,” said Umar Semenov, the Director of Leopard Breeding Center.
According to Renata Shushayte, the Director-General of Autonomous Nonprofit Organisation (ANO) "Caucasian Nature Center", the program to restore Caucasian leopard has already become the most splendid international conservation project. “Unfortunately, at the moment, the condition of the species’ population – animals that live in nature and are kept in zoos - is not considered satisfactory anywhere. Also, in most parts of the world, including Russia, the specie cannot recover on its own. Therefore, consolidation efforts with international conservation community, including the Republic of Azerbaijan and IDEA Public Association, are very important for us. Together with our partners we need to conduct research on areas of historical habitat of the leopard – where species lived before, where they occur these days or could appear as a result of release into the wild in Russia,” she said.
In addition, cooperation should incorporate the creation of regional restoration strategies on species, taking into account local conditions and the current state of populations, environmental education as well as the work with native people.
In order to identify the new areas for the release of the species, methods of field research conducted by the Association of reserves and national parks in the Caucasus, with the support of Autonomous Nonprofit Organisation (ANO) "Caucasian Nature Center" were also discussed at the meeting. The work will be done by the end of the current year and that will allow the experts to form a further strategy on implementation of the reintroduction program based on the exposed potential territories for release and the acquired information about the condition of the food supply.
Autonomous Nonprofit Organisation “North Caucasian Nature Preservation and Protection Center “ (ANO "Caucasian Nature Center") was established by Joint-Stock Company “Northern Caucasus Resorts”. The mission of ANO "Caucasian Nature Center" is to implement projects on a systematic basis directed at conservation, enrichment and protection of the natural potential of the North Caucasus, support and promotion of environmental initiatives in North Caucasian Federal District, implementation of conservation projects to save rare and endangered species of fauna and flora of the North Caucasus region.
The program on restoration (reintroduction) of Caucasian leopard in the Caucasus is being implemented since 2007 on the initiative of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. For the development of the project the Caucasus Leopard Breeding and Rehabilitation Centre was built on the territory of Sochi national park. To this day, 13 species, listed in the Red Book, live in the Center, and 3 leopards were released into the wild in the Caucasus biosphere reserve on 15 July 2016. Specialists continue to work on couple formation, care after newborn cubs and preparation of young leopards for release into the wild.