Leyla Aliyeva visits the Centre for Rehabilitation of Leopards in the North Caucasus

Founder of IDEA (International Dialogue for Environmental Action) Public Union, Vice-president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva visited the Centre for Rehabilitation of Leopards in the Caucasus in the Sochi National Park.

Leyla Aliyeva participated in the vaccination of newly-born leopards, and had a working meeting with the leadership of the Caucasian Nature Centre Autonomous Non-commercial Organization. At the meeting, perspectives of rehabilitating the historical natural habitat of the Front Asian leopards were discussed.

Head of IDEA Public Union Leyla Aliyeva said the Front Asian leopards had once lived in Azerbaijan’s wilderness: “Individual leopard species are still encountered in high mountainous regions of the country. Our country, just like the Russian Federation, perceives the significance of protecting this beast and returning it to the wilderness of the Caucasian mountains. Our countries are united not only by general boundaries, but also by the common vector in the activity towards protecting the nature, including the implementation of the programme for reintroduction of the leopard. By exerting our joint efforts, involving best Russian and Azerbaijani environmentalists, we can reach significant achievements in the formation of leopards’ sustainable biological population in the natural environment.”

At the end of June, during the vaccination of newly-born leopards in the Centre for Rehabilitation of Leopards in the Caucasus, a veterinarian and assisting him Centre employees isolated male Zadiga and female Andrea from their mother, examined them medically, checked their weight, and vaccinated against infectious diseases, using special vaccines. At the moment, there are two female and one male leopards living in the Centre. Their weights are 4.4, 4.9 and 4.7 kilograms.

Director of the Centre for Rehabilitation of Leopards in the Caucasus Umar Semyonov said: “This year, six leopards were born in the Centre – by three cubs from each of the two females. Such high productivity is associated with the good physical and psychological conditions of the animals we have been taking care of here. Thanks to the construction of new open-air cages, there will be enough area - maximum similar to the natural environment - for the newly born cubs.”

According to General Director of the “Caucasian Nature Centre” Renat Shyushayten, the rehabilitation programme for the Front Asian leopard’s population has been the brightest project on the protection of nature on an international level: “Unfortunately, the condition of the Front Asian leopard – both in the wilderness and also those preserved in zoos – may not be considered as prosperous. This species may not be rehabilitated without assistance in many places of the world, including Russia. From this standpoint, consolidation of the efforts by the world’s nature conservation units, including the Republic of Azerbaijan and IDEA Public Union, is more important for us. Together with partners, in-depth study of the historical habitats where this type of leopard had lived earlier, those we encounter nowadays, or those areas to be generated as a result of releasing them into the wilderness on the territory of Russia – is essential.”

Moreover, the cooperation should cover creation of the regional strategy, taking into consideration the local conditions and the contemporary condition of the local population, as well as ecological enlightenment, and work with the local population.

At the working meeting, with a view to defining new zones for realising leopards into, with formation of sustainable population of this species in the wilderness, the field studies of the Association of Caucasian Reserves and National Parks, supported by the Caucasian Nature Centre, were discussed. By the end of the current year, the aforementioned work will be completed, which will allow ecologists to discover potential areas to release leopards and, taking into consideration the data obtained on the status of food basis, and to form the future strategy for implementing leopard’s reintroduction programme.

The “Centre for Conservation and Protection of the North Caucasian Nature” Autonomous Non-commercial Organization (“Caucasian Nature Centre” ANCO) has been established by the “North Caucasus Resorts” Joint-stock Company. The objective of the “Caucasian Nature Centre” ANCO is to implement, on a systematic basis, projects aiming to preserve, strengthen and protect the North Caucasian nature’s potential, support and promote ecological initiatives in the North Caucasian Federal Region, and realization of nature conservation projects on protection of rare species and those facing the peril of extinction.

IDEA (International Dialogue for Environmental Action) Public Union was founded following the initiative of Vice-president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva on July 12, 2011 in Baku. The organization’s activity is aimed at enlightening the public on the environmental challenges, cooperation with the youth, and educating them on ecological problems, and seeking correct solution thereof.

The program for the rehabilitation (reintroduction) of the Front Asian leopard in the Caucasus has been implemented since 2007, following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s initiative. With the objective of developing the programme, the Centre for Rehabilitation of Leopards has been constructed in the Sochi National Park. At the moment, 13 animal species entered on the Red List are living in the Centre, and on July 15, 2016, 3 leopards were released into the wilderness of the Caucasian Biosphere Reserve. Specialists have been going on to do their works on preparations for the formation of couples, caring for newly-born cubs, and releasing young leopards into the wild.