Sunday, 17 July 2016

Rare leopards released into Russian reserve threatened by a ski resort

Three endangered Persian leopard cubs are intended to reintroduce the species to the Sochi area but new plans for a ski trail put the future of the reserve and the animals at risk

Friday 15 July 201616.54 BSTLast modified on Friday 15 July 201622.00 BST

Three Persian leopard cubs have been released into the Sochi area of Russia’s western Caucasus, a day after Unesco threatened to deem the area a “world heritage site in danger” because of a planned ski resort expansion.

Persian leopards once prowled across the Caucasus mountains in great numbers but poaching, poisoning and human encroachment wiped out the species inRussia, in the early 20th century.

The new reintroduction plan was intended to lay the foundation for a new population of the charismatic big cats, which are now thought to number less than 500 across central Asia.

But conservationists say that a recent vote in the Russian parliament to weaken environmental protections, and allow new ski trail constructions in Sochi, will cut off a vital corridor to Turkmenistan for the free-roaming animals.

Igor Chestin, the CEO of WWF Russia said: “We had hoped to release these very special leopards into a secure environment. Instead they will enter the unknown. The future of the western Caucasus is hanging in the balance.”

At a conference in Istanbul on Thursday, the world conservation body, Unesco, warned that the Russian parliament’s vote could have “negative impacts” on the Persian leopards’ reintroduction.

Construction of large scale infrastructure on the site could lead to its being placed on the list of world heritage sites in danger, the committee agreed. But it declined to do so immediately, despite pleas from conservationists.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You only need to enter your comment once! Comments will appear once they have been moderated. This is so as to stop the would-be comedian who has been spamming the comments here with inane and often offensive remarks. You know who you are!

Related Posts with Thumbnails