News

Leopards along borders: Leopards are notoriously difficult to study, and doubtless that is particularly true of the rare Persian leopard, the subspecies being studied by WildCRU’s Mohammad Farhadinia. David Macdonald reports on the publication of new radio-tracking data on these elusive felids which have lost 84% of their former range in the region

April 18, 2017

Working in partnership with Panthera, in 2014 we launched the first comprehensive telemetry study on Persian leopard in north-eastern Iran, near the Turkmenistan border. This is part of Mohammad’s remarkable doctoral studies (reported recently here).

Between September 2014 and August 2016, the team captured six adult leopards (5 males and 1 female) and fitted them with GPS-satellite Iridium collars to provide information on basic ecology of the Persian leopard. Ecologists are always excited by home range sizes (a measure which often reveals information about the relationship between a predator and the availability of its prey), so we calculated MCP 100% home ranges of 62.9 to 1,098.3 km2. With the exception of a young, possibly dispersing male, these leopards had smaller ranges than that of the only other Persian leopard collared prior to this study. A significant complication for conservation arises when animals cross international borders, and in our study two leopards wandered into Turkmenistan. The leopards of the Kopet Dag region appear, therefore, to span two countries, so international relations will have to be part of the recipe for their conservation.

This research is published in CAT News, issue 65.