I watched a very interesting program about wildlife on TV last weekend; one that echoed much of what I have said on here, and to friends, on the subject of Zoos, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The program was concerned with rare and endangered animals. The presenter was lucky enough to make the incredibly long journey to an wilderness that borders Inner Mongolia, North Korea and is on Russian soil.. Amur. Home to the worlds most endangered big cat, the Amur Leopard, whose numbers are estimated to be as low as poultry 30 individuals. The lady researched had been studying these cats for 14 years, and in that time had only managed to see.. wait for it.. one cat herself. Now my hit rather with wildlife, as with so many other photographers, isn’t great but one cat in 14 years, I think I would have given up way before then. Of course, seeing a cat isn’t the only way to study a creature – there are so many other visible signs (and invisible, you’ll certainly know when a fox has been in your garden by the smell) to help when it comes to tracking and monitoring wildlife. As well as tracks left by the animal, their toilet habits can help identify how long ago a creature was around, what it’s been eating – that’s if you’re feeling brave enough to investigate the animals poo (I’d prefer not to myself, but each to their own!). Of course another way, in this technological age is to use remote camera that can be triggered by motion detectors (similar to the sensors you may have installed for burglar alarms in your home) which can be easily sourced and aren’t that expensive these days.
Now, like me, the presenter thought that it was important for animals to be in Zoos; as already mentioned there are only around 30 Amur Leopards in the wild. With this number, interbreeding could soon occur, which would genetically could be devastating for the animals. There are, however, over 300 similar animals in captivity around the world, all of which are genetically profiled and with a careful breeding program closely regulated, the zoos are producing animals that can one day be returned to this desolate region to boost the numbers in the wild. So dispel the image you may have of the Victorian concrete cells and visit your local zoo, though I’m not promising your photos will be as good as mine (no, I know, they’ll be better!).