Leopards in Armenia

Do you know that not so long ago there were cat predators on the territory of Armenia? Yes, yes, even lions, it is not for nothing that there are so many of them in heraldry. True, their population was rapidly declining, and gradually faded away. Cheetahs were exterminated at the same time as lions. But the tiger could be found at the beginning of the twentieth century. Today in Armenia you can meet a lynx and, if you are very lucky, a Persian leopard. The truth is very, very, very rare.

Unfortunately, the reduction in the range of the leopard applies not only to the territory of Armenia. It is increasingly difficult for these beautiful big cats to survive in the world of modern technology. The range of distribution of the Persian leopard extends to the entire region, it can also be found in neighboring countries. True, in each of them there are no more than ten or fifteen individuals.

The Western Asian is considered the largest species of leopards. His image is often found on works of art and high reliefs in this region. As you know, these animals have two types of color. Spotted is, in fact, leopards, and there are also leopards – black cats. Only very big ones. However, if this one crosses your path, there will be clearly more cause for concern than if a yard cat does the same. In one litter, kittens can be both spotted and black, this is not a breed, but just a suit. One of the reasons for the extinction of leopards in the entire region, including in Armenia, was the reduction in the habitat of artiodactyls – the main prey of these big cats. Herds of antelopes, chamois, and saigas were declining due to deforestation and other human activities. Of course, leopards also eat smaller mammals, but it’s one thing to catch a roe deer and have lunch with the whole family, and another thing is to chase hares for half a day.

By the way, in the 1980s, leopards were considered to be completely extinct in Armenia. But in the zero years, a family was discovered in the pre-alpine zone. The animals were caught in a camera trap. And now leopards periodically get on cameras placed in the Khosrov Reserve, in the Tavush forests, in the Zangezur National Park, as well as in the mountains of the Vayots Dzor region. The exact number of animals is still difficult to estimate. But everything has been done to increase the number of leopards, even the year of the leopard – 2019 was announced.

The main measure to increase the number of these beautiful animals is to increase the number of bezoar goats that are found in the mountains of Armenia. The Persian leopard has very light, almost white fur in winter. In leopards, black hair has a slightly reddish tint. So, when going on a trip through the wooded mountains of Armenia, be careful – leopards are dangerous and are listed in the Red Book. By the way, bezoar goats are also an unsafe animal – have you seen what kind of horns they have? However, about them some other time.

photo from WWF Armenia page