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Snow leopards of good will

1-2 (2010)
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The Olympic Games in Sochi can get the status of the ecological: by 2014 here it is planned to revive the population of wild leopards — indigenous inhabitants of the North Caucasus.

The project of leopard return to the Caucasus is unique. There have been no precedents of artificial revival of number of large predators in the world yet. It became possible in Russia because the program was supported at the state level. The nursery for leopards, which opening have visited the prime minister of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and the president of the IOC Jacques Rogge, was declared to be nature conservation Olympic object.

Animals died, but the dream remained.

Ounce, or leopard, — is the last large European cat, which still lives on the Caucasus, in Iran and in Turkmenia. All this territory was wide life arena of a leopard, but became fragmentary because of prosecuting by people. — We had started to discuss the idea of returning of leopards to Caucasus with the director of the Tbilisi zoo of that time Temuri Baratashvili and my pupil, the head of WWF, Igor Chestin in 1970th, — the scientific curator of the project, a Doctor of Biology, the professor, the academician of Russian Natural Science Academy, the Honoured ecologist of Russia Anatoly Kudaktin tells. — But then perestroika begun, leopards in the zoo starved to death. However, the dream remained.

It came true due to the coincidence of circumstances. Vladimir Putin, who visited the Far East, where there were organized the actions on rescue of the Amur tiger, was seriously interested in the fate of this animal and now he personally supervises this unprecedented project. First two leopards were delivered from Turkmenia. Now General and Alous are in the rehabilitation leopard Center, which was specially constructed on the territory of the Sochi national park. Females, probably, will arrive soon from Iran.

Strict upbringing.

«The house for leopards» is high up in the mountains; it is the 12 hectares territory fenced with a grid, with spacious open-air cages and small scientists town. It is not a zoo, therefore tourists are not allowed to go there. The nursery is carefully protected from strangers. There are video cameras, which allow to minimize dialogue between people and animals. Anatoly Kudaktin promises, that the leopards, who will be born in open-air cages, will get the same upbringing as the wild animals.

— Would leopards be dangerous for numerous tourists and sportsmen, who are going to arrive to Sochi in 2014?

— Leopards live in mountains. Do not forget: the leopard is a wild cat who walks by itself. Before letting them go to the wild nature, we will equip them with satellite radio collars. They will help us to trace their moving.

Skiing leopard.

«It would be logical to choose this unique representative of the Caucasian fauna as the Olympic Games symbol in Sochi», — says the Russian WWF director Igor Chestin. «The leopard, unlike other applicants, is the indigenous representative of local fauna and in the best way embodies the Olympic motto:»Faster! Higher! Stronger!", — is assured the director of a mounting skiing resort «Rosa khutor» Sergey Trubin.

The Olympic Games in a gas mask

The special ecological program which was carried out by organizing committee of the Olympic Games-2000 in Sydney, did not save «green continent» from great scandal. The runner with the Olympic torch in hands and in a gas mask handed over to the IOC representative in Lausanne a copy of the report on a dangerous situation in Houmbush bay, near which there was a former dump of radioactive waSte. «Green Peace» experts found there highly toxic dioxine substance. The Athenian Olympic Games-2004 did not get the status of «green Games'. The World Environment Protection Fund declared, that the important natural conservations were cut down and destroyed»to construct new roads and sports objects".

Experts call summer Olympic Games-2008 in Beijing the most harmful. The World Health organisation found out: 4/5 of all the time, spent in the capital of Heavenly Empire, sportsmen were breathing the air with the harmful substances concentration several times exceeding permissible and declared by the Chinese government The winter Games in Canada, which were held in February, 2010, pretend to be «the greenest». The Olympic committee of the Maple leaf Country took care of the building of sports objects in Vancouver and on Whistler mountain; special attention was given to non-Standard decisions; so, as the result, the damage to environment was minimized.


Author: Irina Varlamova