The rare Anatolian leopard was considered extinct for 45 years
The Anatolian leopard, a species of leopard that has always lived in the regions around Turkey, was considered extinct. The last sighting of the leopard occurred in 1974 and after that, the leopards hadn’t been seen. Until recently, when a trail camera spotted the animal in the mountains of Turkey.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Turkey monitors trail cameras that are installed in the mountains of the country. And on January 26, the ministry revealed that they had captured a very rare sighting. The video showed an Anatolian leopard walking on the mountains. But the leopard wasn’t only spotted in one place. There are at least two regions in which the leopard was seen. Researchers have tried to figure out where the leopards live and how many there are. So far, they can be traced back to four regions in the mountains of Turkey. But there isn’t much known about the size of the population and where they live exactly.
According to Daily Sabah, the ministry noted that: “Although it is not possible at this stage to talk about a regular population of leopards in Türkiye, a leopard research unit was established to urgently identify existing potential habitats with comprehensive research and ‘Leopard Action Plan’ studies initiated.”
The subspecies of leopard was thought to be extinct when the last one was killed in 1974 after an attack on a woman in a local village. The leopards were hunted by trophy hunters and that almost drove the species to extinction. Even though it turns out the leopards haven’t gone extinct, they’re still considered an endangered species. According to experts, there are only ten to fifteen Anatolian leopards in the wild.
This new sighting provides hope for the species and the Turkey Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will keep monitoring the animal. Minister Kirişçi said in a Facebook post that: “We will continue to follow its trail and watch its path with excitement.”
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Source: Miami Herald, Daily Sabah, Biology Online | Image: Unsplash, Gwen Weustink