Wolves spotted on Land of the Leopard for the first time

An unusual guest came to the National Park “Land of the Leopard” in the Primorsky Territory. For the first time, an adult wolf was seen in the protected area. Until this day, gray predators did not enter the possessions of their direct competitors – large wild cats.

The unique event was recorded on video by employees of the Border Directorate of the FSB of Russia in the Primorsky Territory during fire monitoring. An unmanned aerial vehicle tracking the area filmed a wolf in the extreme south of the national park. A large animal confidently moved along a country road. The border guards decided to transfer the received frames to the scientists of the “Land of the Leopard”.

“The footage clearly captures a wolf, all external and behavioral signs point to this. There is a possibility that he came to the southern part of the national park from the north, from the Ussuri urban district, where the wolf is a typical species. At the same time, it is extremely unlikely that the animal was noted on our camera traps, because they are installed in areas of high tiger density. Wolves can choose places and detours where a meeting with a strong competitor is least likely – said Ekaterina Blidchenko, an employee of the science department of the FGBU “Land of the Leopard”.

The gray wolf (Canis lupus) is a typical species for Primorsky Krai. However, in the south-west of the region, it is practically not found, and in the southernmost point of the region it is generally seen for the first time. The constant presence of wolves in the central part of the district was last noted in the 1970s, in the far north of the district – in the 1990s. The current situation is determined by the large number of Amur tigers in southern Primorye, as well as the presence here of the world’s only population of the rarest Amur leopard. For these large cats, the wolf is a food competitor. The extermination of the wolf by man in the recent past also played a role.

In the immediate vicinity of the place where the wolf was spotted, there are borders with China and North Korea. Scientists from these two countries noted in a conversation with Russian colleagues that wolves are not now encountered in the border areas either.

According to experts, it is still impossible to talk about the full return of wolves to the south of Primorye. If during the next months the relatives of the “pioneer” are not seen here, his appearance can be considered an accidental entry of a loner into the southern part of the national park. Among the wolves there are similar “wanderers”, independently leading the search for suitable habitats. Nevertheless, the wolf’s visit to the south of the “Land of the Leopard”, the most “feline” protected area in Russia, is a unique event.

In the National Park “Land of the Leopard” over the past 10 years, significant progress has been made in the restoration and conservation of the natural environment. The fight against poaching, illegal logging and fires has had a positive impact on the ecosystem, and the number of ungulates has increased significantly. Thanks to this, the population of the rarest big cat, the Amur leopard, has tripled, and the population density of the Amur tiger has become the highest in the world.

Russian Geographical Society takes an active part in projects to restore the Amur leopard population since 2011. Our goal is to study the state of predator populations, as well as to develop the infrastructure of specially protected natural areas within its range.

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