Leopard Returns to Georgia
Posted on 19 October 2021
After almost 12 years of hard work and numerous attempts, WWF and NACRES teams have achieved an enormous success proving that Leopard still exists in Georgia.
Through the initiative and financial support of the WWF, the Conservation Research Group of NACRES working on the field in very extreme landscapes and challenging conditions, has detected a Leopard in the Eastern Greater Caucasus Mountains for the first time since 2009. The researchers discovered a photo of this charismatic creature taken in August 2021, by one of the camera traps installed in Tusheti protected areas.
The Caucasian Leopard (Panthera pardus tulliana) also known as Persian Leopard is the world's largest Leopard subspecies and due to the multiple threats and pressures, it is recognised as a vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List as well as is identified as a focal species for conservation efforts in the Caucasus ecoregion.
Leopard Conservation Programme in the South Caucasus employs innovative approaches to support the long-term re-establishment of Leopard populations by focusing efforts on target areas in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Since the programme has started, the team has observed an increase in Leopard sightings in the target areas. During researches (2014 – 2019) implemented by WWF conservation team, more than 20 Leopards have been identified in the South-Eastern Lesser Caucasus from the Khosrov Reserve to Nakhchivan and the Talysh Mountains. The new generations have been systematically detected in those areas, proving that sites have become a source for dispersal of the species into the whole Caucasus. The positive results of the Programme are encouraging, but the population of Caucasian Leopard is still too small and fragmented to secure its long-term survival, correspondingly WWF Caucasus Programme Office continues to work with local communities and experts to support the survival of this magnificent animal and its habitats.
Leopard Conservation Programme was initiated in 2000s by Mr. Nugzar Zazanashvili, Conservation Director of WWF Caucasus who has dedicated his career to nature conservation and in particular has worked many years to implement Leopard conservation in Caucasus, sadly passed away earlier in 2021. This recent success in Georgia is dedicated to his memory.
WWF-Caucasus appreciates the support coming from WWF-Switzerland and WWF-Germany that has enabled regular monitoring activities leading to the visible results. We also, thank all our colleagues, experts and specialists from the Ecoregion for their inputs in different stages of developing ecoregional activities and implementation of the Leopard conservation work in the Caucasus.
Leopard(Panthera pardus tulliana) - Georgia, Tusheti protected areas