Nov 18, Changchun, China --- A set of eyewitness reports and tiger footprints as well as camera trap’ snapshots of endangered Amur leopards roaming freely in China’s northeastern forests are hailed as rare evidence that the species have inhabited in the greater Changbai Mountains area.
Conservationists working in the Hunchun National Nature Reserve, which borders China and Russia, claimed to have visually spotted an adult Amur tiger with three cubs in early November. The group of big cats was later identified as an adult female Amur tiger leading two to three cubs that were born in May, according to researchers from Feline Research Center of the State Forestry Administration (SFA), who studied the scene afterwards.
“Previous discoveries of tiger traces were basically that of individuals wandering along the China-Russia border,” said Lang Jianmin with Hunchun nature reserve. “It’s rare to have seen such a family.”
Coupling with the latest major finding, an Amur leopard with two cubs strolling in the Wangqing National Nature Reserve, mere 30 kilometers away from Hunchun, have been documented by camera traps set up by WWF and Feline Research Center of SFA.
“These are unprecedented image evidences showing Amur leopard actually breeds in China,” said Dr. Jiang Guangshun, professor of Northeast Forestry University, and the executive deputy director of the Feline Research Center of SFA. “This female Amur leopard is with its twin cubs, which are 5-months-old.”
“We look to improve the environment of habitats for Amur tiger and leopard in China, so as to ensure the big cats can breed and their population can therefore recover,” said Shi Quanhua, head of WWF’s Northeast China Office.
The appearances of breeding groups not only serve as convincing evidence that Amur tigers and leopards reproduce and inhabit in China’s Changbai Mountains area but also a demonstration that big cats are moving towards greater Changbai areas and inland regions.
The corridor linking Wangqing, Hunchun, Suiyang and Dongning in the Northeast is a prioritized area for WWF’s tiger conservation. “It’s a major distribution area of Amur tiger and leopard. What’s more, it is a vital path for big cats to move towards China’s inland,” said Fan Zhiyong, director of species programme at WWF-China.