HUFFINGTON POST
07/15/2015 04:39 pm ET

Endangered Leopard Cub Recovering After Being Rescued From Poacher's Snare

Only about 60 Amur leopards remain in the wild, but that hasn't deterred poachers.
Credit: WWF/Land of Leopard National Park

The World Wildlife Fund says that a one-year-old Amur leopard cub that was rescued from a poacher's snare in Russia last month is in stable condition.

The Amur leopard is the rarest big cat on earth, with only about 60 of the solitary animals left in the wild. While the IUCN has classified them as critically endangered, they still face far too many threats, as illustrated by the case of the Russian cub.

In June, Russian border guards found the cub struggling in a snare in the Land of Leopard National Park. Poachers commonly leave these snares to capture cats and turn their stunning fur into clothing, furniture, art and other goods.

The Russian outpost of the World Wildlife Fund, along with other local groups, rushed in to help the animal, who immediately went into emergency surgery. The cub lost three toes on its front paw, but veterinarians were able to save his leg.

Credit: WWF/Land of Leopard National Park

The young cat will now be treated at a rehabilitation center until about mid-August and is already showing signs of recovery, a representative for the WWF told The Huffington Post earlier this week. Scientists and vets from around the world, including the chief vet for the Moscow Zoo, have been consulting with the center online to help aid the animal's upcoming reintroduction to the wild.

In a bit of good news for the Amur leopards, the WWF reported earlier this year that their population had doubled between 2007 and 2015. 

"Such a strong rebound in Amur leopard numbers is further proof that even the most critically endangered big cats can recover if we protect their habitat and work together on conservation efforts," Barney Long, director of species protection and Asian species conservation for WWF, said in a statement at the time.

Most of the remaining animals are found in Russia's Land of Leopard park, which was established in 2012 as a safe haven for the cats. About a dozen have also been counted in adjacent areas of China.

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