Russian, Chinese scientists to study DNA of Far Eastern leopards, Amur tigers

Specialists of the Land of the Leopard National Park in the Primorsky territory are collecting samples for genetic monitoring of rare predator species, the Far Eastern leopard and the Amur tiger.

Specialists of the Land of the Leopard National Park in the Primorsky territory are collecting samples for genetic monitoring of rare predator species, the Far Eastern leopard and the Amur tiger.

Animals' fur and feces are being collected in the conservancy area, the National Park press service said on Wednesday.

The genetic material will be sent to the Institute of Biology and Soil Science of the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and DNA will be extracted from each sample. DNA samples will be delivered to a Chinese laboratory which has been conducting similar research under a cooperation agreement.

"The exchange of material will help find out how many leopards and tigers have been crossing the Russian-Chinese border," the report said.

Genetic monitoring will provide scientists with detailed information about the animal population.

The study will reveal the number of animals, their gender, age and kinship, National Park Deputy Director for Science Yelena Salmanova said.

Genetic monitoring is a very complicated process, Salmanova said. For instance, samples need to be frozen for preserving the DNA structure, which means material can be collected only in subzero temperatures in winter.

Southeastern Primorye is the only place in Russia populated by two rare feline subspecies - the Amur tiger and the Far Eastern leopard. Both subspecies are on the Red Book of Endangered Species.

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