IDEA, Panthera launch new Caucasian leopard protection project

The International Dialogue for Environmental Protection, IDEA, and the world's leading cat conservation organization, Panthera, signed a memorandum of understanding on future cooperation.

Signed by Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, founder and director of IDEA Leyla Aliyeva and Panthera chairman Thomas Kaplan, the memorandum will see the two organizations develop a plan for assessing the living conditions of leopards in Azerbaijan and protecting these species from extinction.

Under the memorandum, Panthera will also assist Azerbaijani scholars in developing Caucasian leopard research and protection methodology.

“We are very pleased that we have signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Panthera,” IDEA founder Leyla Aliyeva said.

She added that Panthera had experience in programs similar to the Caucasian leopard protection program.

Thomas Kaplan said they support Azerbaijan's initiative to protect leopard species and increase their population.

“Pardus project, which is the first program for the leopard protection worldwide, has started this week,” he said. “The beginning of the joint activity with IDEA in this direction is much appreciated.”

Providing IDEA with 20 surveillance cameras to determine the places of living and the number of leopards in Azerbaijan was the first step as part of the international cooperation with the Panthera organization.

The number of Caucasian leopards referred by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to the animal species on the verge of extinction, the Middle East and Asia is less than 1,000, while their number is around 25 in the south-western part of the Caucasus region, on the border between Azerbaijan and Iran.