St. Petersburg: A 261,000-acre national park in Russia`s Far East created to protect Amur leopards began operating this week.
"This is the first Russian national park created expressly to protect wildlife," said presidential chief of staff Sergei Ivanov, who is chairman of the supervisory council of the Eurasian Center for Leopard Population Research, Preservation and Recovery.
Ivanov expressed optimism that the Amur leopard would avoid extinction. "Scientists do not think so and now we have everything to save it," he said Tuesday.
The Amur leopard population has steadily declined since the end of the 19th century and had reached a critical level. The main causes of the decline are "human activity, loss of habitat, illegal housing construction," he said.