In rare incident, Siberian tiger kills leopard in China's national park

(Xinhua) 16:05, December 28, 2023

CHANGCHUN, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- In a rare incident, a wild Siberian tiger attacked and killed a leopard in a national park in northeast China, local authorities said Thursday.

The discovery came to light when the Hunchun branch of the Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park administration received reports about a carcass believed to be that of an Amur leopard.

At the scene, the dead leopard was lying on the snow-covered ground, with multiple bite marks on its head, abdomen and hindquarters.

"After arriving at the scene, we followed the drag marks and discovered footprints of another feline species. About 160 meters south, clear signs of a fight were found. It should be the initial site of the encounter," said Yu Hongxun, deputy director of the national park's Hunchun branch.

According to a joint investigation team launched by the national park, local law enforcement authorities, and a research center from the National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA), the leopard had been attacked and eaten by an adult male Siberian tiger.

The investigation determined that it was an 8-year-old male leopard. This leopard had been recorded over 800 times by the park's monitoring system, and the most recent monitoring record dates back to September this year, said Feng Limin, deputy director of the monitoring and research center of Siberian tigers and Amur leopards under NFGA.

The investigation team is conducting further on-site hair DNA screening and tiger track analysis for a final confirmation of the involved tiger's identity, Feng added.

Siberian tigers, also known as Amur tigers, mainly live in Russia's Far East and northeast China. One of the world's most endangered species, about 500 Siberian tigers are believed to be living in the wild.

Amur leopards, also known as the Far Eastern leopards, are also one of the most endangered felines in the world.

Due to significant differences in body weight, conflicts between Siberian tigers and Amur leopards are rare. They were once documented in some countries, such as India, said Chen Yang, deputy head of the Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park administration.

"The incident is the first of its kind in China, and provides an opportunity for researchers to gain insights into such natural phenomena and contribute to future conservation efforts," Chen said.

In October 2021, China officially designated the Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park, which spans an area of over 1.4 million hectares in the northeastern provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang.

The park has implemented a series of measures to protect the wildlife, such as the withdrawal of factories and mines and forest vegetation restoration.

The latest data shows that the population of wild Siberian tigers and Amur leopards in the park has increased to around 60 for each species.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Wu Chaolan)


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