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Guardian of leopards

The National Park "Land of the Leopard", which is home to the majority of the Red Data Book of Far Eastern leopards, 5 April turned three years old

Guardian of leopards

Tatyana Baranovskaya, head of the protected area, told EastRussia about the tricks of local poachers, about a unique flashmob that will connect Vladivostok and Moscow, as well as about the "weddings" of the rarest large cats on the planet.

- Tatyana Alexandrovna, you became the director of the national park just over four months ago. What drawbacks in the work of "Land of the Leopard" you have already noticed in this time and that, on the contrary, you are pleased?

- The first thing any new leader should pay attention to is the strengths, they help to win. The National Park has a remarkable work of the security department. In addition, the territory is very reasonably located - when creating the Land of the Leopard, important points were taken into account that determined the conditions for the survival of a wild cat, while creating an environment for the harmonious coexistence of populations of various animal species and conditions for the preservation of the main natural complexes that are important for maintaining biodiversity. In addition, we have a great team.

As for the shortcomings - they can be in the work of any institution. "Land of the leopard" is young, 5 April, she noted only her third birthday. That is, the national park is, in fact, a three-year-old child. But at the same time there are already basic skills of interaction between structures and units, they hear each other, and this is a strong point. The weak side is that there is no experience of such interaction yet - we know how to do something, but this skill is not yet debugged at the level of the conditioned reflex. Before we do something, we lose time for reflection, whereas some things must be done already on the machine. But, on the other hand, we can not but rejoice that the process of justifying this or that sphere of activity - security, forestry, ecological tourism - is not superficial, but serious, with reflection and analysis of what we are doing.

- What about poaching? Are there cases of murder of Red Book animals and what measures are being taken in the fight against poaching to date? Can the staff of inspectors cope with the threat?

- With poaching it is not the best way. On the one hand, the inspectorate constantly struggles with illegal invasions, and if we compare what was in this territory literally a couple of years ago, and what is now, it is heaven and earth: today poaching is not so widespread as it was just recently . On the other hand, in response to our measures poachers will always find countermeasures, so unfortunately, poaching is not completely destroyed.

Today it takes a sophisticated and pretentious shape. By analogy with the virus - you muffle it with an antibiotic, and it mutates, and new means must be sought against it. For example, if before the poachers went into the forest and shot, now they shine car headlights from the track, blinding the animals and shooting their eyes. In this case, it is very difficult for these people to present something, since being on the highway with a weapon is not considered a criminal offense. That is, the literacy rate of poachers rises.

Our inspectors are equipped with special communications, but poachers also have the opportunity to have a special connection and “listen” to our employees. If earlier poaching was a hunt according to the “who-who” principle, now it is a struggle of technologies.

There have been no recent cases of killing Red Book species, at least for the period of my work in this post. But on pre-holidays and on weekends, the facts of illegal entry into the territory of the national park are regularly recorded. If a person simply went to the "Land of the Leopard" without a pass, then this is an administrative offense, but if he is here with a weapon, then this is already a criminal offense. By law, it is prohibited to find a weapon in the territory of the national park.

The number of inspectors that is now fully capable of coping with the threat of poaching. We control the situation, but this does not mean that 100% of all violations are being suppressed. Of course, I would very much like to increase the number of employees, as the more they are, the wider the coverage area. But while we do not have additional funds for this, and we take not by number, but by skill.

-There is now a fire-dangerous period, and last year an impressive territory of the national park suffered from the fires. Are there any special measures being taken to prevent a repeat of last year's situation?

- This year we were lucky with the weather - there was snow, high humidity and a north wind. But the spring hunting season opened, and crowds of drunken hunters began to build bonfires, so inspectors are forced to defend the territory of the national park from fire from adjacent territories. This year, the fire came to us only once, burned a little more 2 acres of grass. In addition, training firing was conducted at the Bamburovsky training ground, and the military twice missed the fire. Unfortunately, they are poorly equipped with fire fighting equipment, and our inspectors had to extinguish the fire on our territory. As a result of two fires burned about 25 ha of lands of the national park.

With regard to fire fighting measures, this year regional exercises have already passed, and from 6 to 13 in April, our exercises are already held in working mode. A group of specialists in the field of fire fighting who will conduct training will come: on the real situation will work out the interaction of groups, special skills and additional security features. Plus we are additionally equipped with fire extinguishing equipment. Mineralized stripes are also being cleared. We hope that the spring-2015 of the year will be very different from the spring-2014.

- Not so long ago, the contest "Leopard Guardian" was held, and people involved in the conservation of rare cats were able to give names to animals. Are there any other similar activities planned that can draw public attention to the conservation of the leopard population?

- The main event is a flash mob "Leopard Trail", which is scheduled for 6 June. The first such event will take place simultaneously in Vladivostok and Moscow. All interested persons will be able to line up in the form of a paw of a leopard in two cities and to greet each other through a video bridge. Flashmob will be timed to the Day of the ecologist, which is celebrated 5 June.

In addition, activities will be conducted in the regions of the province to expand the knowledge of the local inhabitants about the leopard and how to conduct agriculture and coexist peacefully without interfering with it.

Also, as soon as new leopards appear, which we identify and on which we will get passports, we will connect the public to finding their names. How it will be done next time - while it is being decided, it will be a surprise. But we can already say that this opportunity will be given to people who contribute to the issue of conservation of the leopard population.

"The Leopard Trail now operates in the National Park. Do you plan to develop any more tourist routes?

- We are doing this. There will be a route in the area of ​​the Blue cliff, as well as in the places where the caves are located. And one more ecotropical will be in the valley of the river Gryaznoi. In these matters, we want to involve the local population. One of the ideas is the organization of a horse route with the participation of local residents. Now there is an analysis of what places will be interesting for tourists, while it is important that the tourist traffic does not create anxiety factors for leopards. Perhaps, in due course there will be a network of bicycle routes.

In order to create such trails, an infrastructure should be organized that would preserve the territory intact, as human interference in the natural environment is generally negative.

- According to the latest sounded data, the number of leopards is growing. What are the forecasts for the next 10-15 years? Maybe one of the local inhabitants now expects offspring?

- It is very difficult to predict when it comes to cats, but the population is growing. Now it is more than 50 predators. What will happen in a couple of years? If we maintain the population of ungulates, which are a source of food for leopards, at the same level, then we can predict the growth of the population of cats. The medium capacity is still not filled, and there are serious chances for growth - the population can double or even triple in this territory. In fact, it all depends on the degree of protection and the number of ungulates.

In terms of reproduction, the cat is an unpredictable animal. Genetic analysis has not yet been carried out, we do not know what and how it is within the population. In particular, there is a big question about the closely related crossing - recently, in the lenses of the photo traps, there came the "wedding" of Bari and Meamura, which, perhaps, come to each other as sister and brother. Let's hope that genetic factors do not "shoot" in a bad way.

By all laws, the leopard population should have disappeared long ago. In 2002, I heard about 30 leopards, and experts predicted the death of the population in 5-7 years. But, nevertheless, the leopards survived. If we predict the number of cats in the perspective of several years, then 100-120 individuals are quite achievable results in the current state of the territory and food supply.

As for the natural offspring, the pregnant females usually hide, and with the help of the photo traps they are not noticed. But we have those who brought the offspring, and now they are teaching the youth how to behave properly. There is a mother cat, who brings up two children, and there is one who has three kittens. Compared with previous years, the National Park increases the number of leopards that teach children behavior in nature. Plus, recently, several females have disappeared from the screens of the photo traps, so now they are hiding somewhere - the leopardesses do not like it when someone peeps behind them at the time of rearing their offspring. In addition, recently we received footage with two "weddings" of predators, so that we may soon be expecting offspring.

- The head of the presidential administration, Sergei Ivanov, is concerned about the fate of leopards and the national park. How does the presence of such a high-ranking curator affect the work of the Land of the Leopard?

- Sergey Borisovich - a man who sincerely loves the "Land of the Leopard" and our animals. In addition, he is the chairman of the autonomous non-profit organization "Far Eastern leopards", which provides us with serious assistance. So in his person the administration of the President of the Russian Federation closely follows what and how is happening on the "Land of the Leopard" in order to give us a helping hand at the right time. In addition, special attention to the conservation of leopards, Amur tigers, as well as other Red Data Book species that inhabit our territory is provided by the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation

-If you have "pets" among leopards - predators, which for you somehow stand out among others?

"My favorite is the leopardess of Neruss." The name was given to her by members of the Association of Directors of Reserves and National Parks of the Russian Federation. Its name is the name of one of the rivers of central Russia. Nerussa is a calm, balanced, but very bright cat who skillfully and correctly brings up children. That's right - because her kittens behave very cautiously, judging by what we see with the help of photo traps. Her girl remained on the same territory with her, and the boys roam about where we do not see them. Nerussa twice brought two kittens. Now she is not visible, so she can be pregnant again.

I'm really interested in the fate of cats, I'm happy to look at the recordings from the photo traps, get acquainted with leopards, I know almost all already by name. I like the name Hassan, it's talking. Kedrovka - a very good name, Typhoon - all this reflects what is happening here. Dersu, Shuster, Frontier - excellent names. In general, I am for the fact that leopards are called simple names without pretentiousness, although Meamur is absolutely wonderful for a leopard who wears it.

- How do you see the national park in 10 years? What are you planning to change and what do you want to achieve ideally as a director?

- I want to see the Land of the Leopard the best national park of the system of protected natural territories of Russia. Exemplary national park. And this means an effective protection system, balanced and effective forestry measures supporting the state of natural complexes and a normal food base, a network of biotechnical measures that make it easy to solve the problem of feeding ungulates, reduced to poaching, environmental management systems in snowy winters. enlightenment, when every local resident is proud to live near the Land of the Leopard.

Also, there should be an active network of ecological paths and routes with a convenient infrastructure for people, not interfering with natural complexes. A solid collective and a large manor in Barabash, where there will be a multimedia hall and a visit-center. All the structures of the national park will also be located there. In Vladivostok there will be only an information center and representation. I would very much like to have by that time even banned the spring hunt even in the south of Primorye, but for now this dream is probably from the realm of fantasy.

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