For the first time after 50 years two Persian leopard cubs have been born for the first time at the Persian Leopard Breeding and Rehabilitation Centre, Sochi National Park in south-western Russia last week.
“The newborn kittens however will be released into the wilderness once they are old enough in order for them to learn surviving skills and establish a new population of leopard at the Caucasus Mountains”, said Natalia Dronova, WWF-Russia species coordinator.
“As for now, the sex of the kittens remained unknown since it is too early to tell. The staff also did not want to disturb the mother and the newborn kittens”, said Umar Semyonov, Head of the breeding centre.
The parents, Zadig and Andrea were brought to the park in 2012 from Portugal’s Lisbon Zoo.
Average newborn leopard is 15cm long and weighs between 500 and 700 grams. The kittens will only obtain the sight by the seventh or night day and start crawling within the second week. They will be released from the den after two months. At the moment, the mother is responsible for nursing the kittens with half-digested meat, and they will only learn how to hunt by themselves when they have reached a suitable age.
The population of the Persian leopard (Panthera pardus tulliana) were high within the mountainous region between the Black and Caspian seas. However the declination of the leopard’s population fell drastically due to the poaching and loss of habitat throughout the 20th century. It is now believed that there are very few leopards inhabit in the region.
According to the WWF website, it is endangered according to the IUCN Red List with fewer than 1,290 mature individuals believed to live in Iran, eastern Turkey, the Caucasus Mountains, southern Turkmenistan and parts of western Afghanistan.
The Persian Leopard Reintroduction Program is run by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation with participation of the Sochi National Park, Caucasus Nature Reserve, A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, WWF and Moscow Zoo.
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