Population of endangered leopard species rebounds in China | The Optimist Daily: Making Solutions the News
Today’s Solutions: July 16, 2024

As a result of poaching and increasing loss of habitat, leopard populations have experienced a global decline in recent years.

But that’s not the case for the big cats in the Loess Plateau, northern China, where numbers of the North Chinese leopard subspecies have increased, according to recent research.

“We were quite surprised that the number of leopards has increased because their populations are declining in many other places. We knew that there were leopards in this area, but we had no idea how many,” says Bing Xie, a Ph.D. student at the University of Copenhagen and one of the researchers of the study.

In a joint effort with scientists at Beijing Normal University, Xie covered more than 300 square miles of the Loess Plateau between 2016 and 2017. Camera footage installed by Xie and her fellow research colleagues showed an increase of 25 percent in the area’s leopard population from 88 in 2016 to 110 in 2017.

Researchers believe that the North Chinese leopard’s rebound is the result of a successful conservation plan devised by the government in collaboration with a range of research institutes, implemented in 2015 with the aim of restoring biodiversity in the area.

“About 20 years ago, much of the Loess Plateau’s forest habitat was transformed into agricultural land. Human activity scared away wild boars, toads, frogs, and deer—making it impossible for leopards to find food. Now that much of the forest has been restored, prey has returned, along with the leopards,” explains Xie.

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