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New Russian Footage Sheds Light On Life Of Rare Leopard

There are only a few dozen Amur leopards living wild in Russia. (file photo)
There are only a few dozen Amur leopards living wild in Russia. (file photo)
An extensive video recording of the elusive Amur leopard has been released this month.

The WWF wildlife preservation organization says the footage provides "vital information" on how the highly endangered cat raises cubs in the wild.

The video was filmed by 10 hidden camera traps in November and December in Russia's Far East as part of a joint project by Land of the Leopard National Park and WWF.

The 78 hours of video material shows how a female Amur leopard, named Kedrovka, feeds her three cubs with a sika deer, trains them, and resolves their disputes.

The footage captures the leopard cubs approaching the deer in turns, with the strongest eating first and the weakest last. Scientists had previously believed that leopards from one "family" ate prey together.

"In the video, we can see how the mother urges the weakest [cub] to eat after the other two have abandoned the prey," says Vasily Solkin, from the WWF-Russia Amur branch, who compiled the footage. "But it is not as fussy as most human mothers, when the weakest [cub] starts to limp on one paw and whines about it, the mother just ignores it."

WATCH: Footage Of An Amur Leopard And Her Cubs

WWF said it is important to know how leopards are raised and taught hunting skills in the wild to make sure that planned programs to introduce new leopards into their natural habitat using breeding pairs from zoos are successful.

A 2013 census showed that up to 50 Amur leopards remain in the wild in Far Eastern Russia.

Habitat destruction by logging, forest fires, and land conversion for farming purposes contributed to the disappearance of some 80 percent of the species' former range between 1970 and 1983.

The big cat has also been hit hard by the poaching of ungulates, which is its main prey.

-- Antoine Blua

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