Scientists to create genetic passports for Amur leopards

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Genetic studies of leopards are needed primarily for the development of strategies for these rare species protection, as well as for the breeding programs creation.

Russian and Chinese scientists will create genetic passports for all the remaining wild Amur leopards, informed the National Park “Leopard’s land” situated in the south-west of Primorye.

“From January to March the National Park staff has collected more than 170 genetic material samples. These samples will be used in laboratories of the Biology and Soil Science Institute of the Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences to get DNA. Then it will be sent to the Chinese genetic laboratory in Beijing,” said National Park PR manager Mariya Okulova.

“Experts plan to get 175 samples of the collected genetic material that represent the 57 leopards recorded in the park,” she highlighted.

Genetic studies of leopards are needed primarily for the development of strategies for these rare species protection, as well as for the breeding programs creation. Today Amur leopards’ population in the wild does not exceed 50-70 individuals, and as scientists assume, they are close relatives. Their crossbreeding may cause various diseases. World zoos keep about 100 individuals of this rare species.

Currently, scientists are considering to breed leopards involving zoo predators to let them live in the wild. However, before this program implementation it is necessary to conduct a number of studies, including genetic ones. Joint genetic studies will help determine the kinship of predators that live in the same territory.

Text and pictures by TASS