Are leopards wandering around Europe? If you decide that Armenia is in Europe, the answer is yes. Personally, I don’t really consider Armenia to be in Europe but they did enter the European Song Contest. Does that make them European? John Barnes, a well known Times journalist, seems to have coined the phrase “Euro-leopard” and stretched the boundaries of Europe to their limit! Fine. It is nice to think the leopard isn’t that far away from us in the UK.
A leopard has been photographed by camera trap in Armenia. That is quite an achievement.
This where Armenia is:
The Euro-leopard, that I am writing about, is better described as the Persian leopard or Caucasian leopard. “Persian leopard” does not sound that European, does it?
The world population size is around 1,000 (870 – 1,300) of which a mere dozen live in Armenia. A dozen wild cats of any species is not viable from a breeding standpoint. However, they can travel to Iran and meet their cousins there to produce some kittens! Corridors of land joining up reserves make small populations viable. This is one failing of the Indian tiger reserves. They are islands and the tiger populations are too small in each reserve.
Iran is really where most Persian leopards live (550–850). Also, there are an estimated 200-300 in Afghanistan and just 5 individuals in Turkey.
The Persian leopard is a subspecies of the common leopard and the largest. They are widespread across the planet but their numbers are declining.
Here is a video of the Persian leopard marking territory by scratching the ground made by the Iranian Cheetah Society (there are cheetahs in Iran too but not many). The heading picture is a screenshot in case the video fails.