The World Wildlife Fund said on Wednesday it was postponing a large-scale count of the endangered Amur Leopard in the Russian Far East until next year due to a lack of fresh snow fall.
According to the last Amur Leopard census, carried out in winter 2009, fewer than 40 individuals are left in the southern part of the Russian Far East, the species' only habitat in the country.
The environmental organization has been preparing for the census since January 17, but low snowfall has made it impossible to trace the leopards' tracks.
"We count Amur Leopards by tracking their paw prints on the snow, so the ecologists were waiting for fresh snow to carry out the census," said Sergei Aramilev, coordinator of the WWF's Amur Leopard program. "The census must be carried out on the fifth day, when the leopards have had a chance to mark the tracks, but now that the snow is beginning to melt, the census will not be possible."
This year the ecologists planned to track 150 routes, covering the entire area inhabited by the Russia Amur Leopard population.
Some of the wild cats can still be counted using camera-trap monitoring, Aramilev said.
The Amur leopard, also known as the Manchurian, or Far Eastern leopard, is one of the rarest large cats in the world. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has included the Amur leopard in its list of critically endangered animals.
VLADIVOSTOK, March 9 (RIA Novosti)