Big cats without boundaries: Eurasian countries come together to protect precious leopard habitat

A Persian leopard that knows no boundaries has become symbolic of the efforts of Eurasian conservationists and officials who are working together to protect the animals and their habitat.

The leopard, also known as Noah was first identified by its tracks in Vashlovani in southeast Georgia in November 2003. Conservationists used camera traps to observe the leopard in 2004, showing that Noah was living partly in Georgia and possibly also in Azerbaijan. But no tracks or images have been seen since 2008.

“Vashlovani in Georgia is good habitat for these leopards, but the decline of natural prey in the area over much of the last century has made it less than optimal. The complete lack of any signs of a female in the area would support this,” said Gareth Goldthorpe, Project Field Coordinator, Georgia, Fauna & Flora International (FFI).

Following an IUCN Cat Specialist Group meeting in Istanbul in Turkey in early March, FFI is continuing to work in Georgia in an effort to understand the leopards range, its behaviour and to protect its habitat. Officials and conservationists in the country are now designing population and habitat surveys.

The Persian leopard’s range extends beyond the boundaries of the Caucasus ecoregion so these studies are important for the northern range of the leopard’s habitat.

Noah was named because he survived despite a ‘deluge’ of poaching in the region.

Photo credit: NACRES