Conservation of leopard in the Southern Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia)
This project is intended to continue 3 years and pursues the general objective to ensure the increase of endangered leopard (Panthera pardus) populations as an indicator of improved conservation, strengthened environmental management and stabilized ecosystem processes in the Caucasus. The main target areas are southern Armenia (from Khosrov Forest State Reserve to the Armenian-Iranian state border), south-western Azerbaijan (Nakhichevan Republic) and south-eastern Azerbaijan (Talysh Mts.), with special emphasis on local protected areas (Khosrov and Shikahogh reserves in Armenia, Ordubad and Hirkan national parks in Azerbaijan). The project also carries out works to estimate the leopard status in eastern Georgia (Vashlovani and Tusheti national parks) and north-western Azerbaijan (Akhar-Bakhar section of Ilisu Reserve, Turianchai Reserve and areas between the Greater and Lesser Caucasus).
The following activities were implemented within this project in Armenia in 2008-2009:
1. Camera-trapping and field surveys of wildlife. Ten camera-traps were provided by WWF Caucasus Programme Office in Tbilisi and used since 2008 onwards in the Meghri Ridge in the extreme south of Armenia. This study area adjoins Shikahogh Reserve and represents a part of the territory which in October 2009 was officially designated as Arevik National Park. Field surveys cover the Zangezur, Bargushat and Meghri ridges in southern Armenia and are carried out with active participation of anti-poaching unit (APU) members and the state conservation inspection (CI) of the Syunik Province.
2. Establishment and functioning of APU. This unit is based in Shikahogh Reserve, includes people from this protected area, CI and Meghri Forestry and operates in the southern part of the Syunik Province across the Zangezur, Bargushat and Meghri ridges. APU members have received the binoculars, GPS devices and photo cameras for their work (within the other WWF project) and fill the specially designed wildlife record protocols for further data analysis.
3. Set-up of roadblock and special road signs to curb poaching in the Meghri Ridge.
4. Development of the Leopard Conservation Strategy and Action Plan in Armenia. This document was designed and prepared on a participatory basis, submitted to the Ministry of Nature Protection and then approved by this governmental agency.
5. Community build-up work in the key villages of Shikahogh, Tsav, Alvank, Shvanidzor and Ernadzor, followed by awareness-raising Conservation Champion Campaign in Shikahogh and Ernadzor among local schoolchildren. This campaign included handicraft making and painting by children and selection of 6 best boys and girls as the Leopard Friends. Nominated in 3 categories (gold, silver and bronze), they were awarded with digital cameras, cell phones, mp3 players and binoculars. Additionally, the Leopard Guardians were selected from the most active local conservationists (reserve rangers, villagers) and awarded with binoculars and cameras.
It is vitally important to continue the following works:
1. Maintain close cooperation between Shikahogh Reserve, CI, Meghri Forestry and local communities within the Syunik Province and also extend the leopard conservation and population monitoring activities to the next Vayots Dzor Province bounding to Syunik from the north.
2. Keep on monitoring and conservation within the newly established Arevik National Park and Zangezur Sanctuary.
3. Prevent expansion of mining industry in southern Armenia.
4. Raise public awareness about conservation and biodiversity.
Funding Organization / Donor:
To ensure the increase of endangered leopard (Panthera pardus) populations as an indicator of improved conservation, strengthened environmental management and stabilized ecosystem processes in the Caucasus.
- Population monitoring through field surveys and camera-trapping is implemented
- Anti-poaching activities are initiated, ongoing and enforced with set-up of a roadblock and road signs
- The Leopard Conservation Strategy and Action Plan is developed and officially approved
- The awareness-raising Conservation Champion Campaign is successfully organized
Tel: (+374 10) 54 61 56 (ext. 17)
Partnership Development Manager
Tel: (+374 10) 54 61 56 (ext. 14)