About 5000 square kilometers of land in the south-west Primorye region, close to the border between Russia, China and North Korea, were transected for the census and tracks left by the leopards in the snow were counted. Scientists were able to determine the number of the leopards by examining the shape, size and patterns of the tracks as well as determine the direction and time of the animals' movement.
In all, 35 field workers took part in the census, working in more than 158 transected sections.
"The snow track census is an important method to monitor leopard numbers. We see that its population has been balancing on the edge of survival for many years," said Dr. Dale Miquelle, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Russia program and coordinator of the previous census in 2005.
"But to understand the reasons, we should research the ecology of the predator in a more profound way, using latest techniques such as automatic camera traps, radio tracking, genetic and veterinary research."
The census 2007 found 7-9 male leopards, 3-7 females without cubs, 4 females with cubs, 5-6 cubs in all, and 6-8 undefined tracks. Total: 25-34.
This compares with 9 males in 2003, 7 females without cubs, 4-5 females with cubs, 4-5 cubs in all, and four undefined. Total: 28-30.
In 2000, the results were 4-5 males, 8-9 females without cubs, 1-2 females with cubs, 1-3 cubs in all and 8-9 undefined. Total: 22-28.
Source:World Wildlife Fund