Amur leopard and Amur tiger filmed walking along the same track in Russian reserve

Unique footage using 40 hidden cameras has captured an Amur leopard and an Amur tiger walking along the same track in search of prey. They say that one is covering the tracks of the other. However, the Amur leopard is going to avoid a confrontation with the tiger. They will use what I call timeshare methods. Their home ranges overlap but they occupy the common areas at different times.

I don’t have the footage but some nice stills from Sergey Gorshkov. He is a great wildlife photographer. The Amur (Siberian) tiger is the world’s largest cat. The Amur leopard is also a very big leopard. Both these cat species are bigger than their counterparts in the south because living in colder climates for eons results in larger animals as they lose less body heat due to surface area and mass ratios.

These are slightly smaller than the originals. Please click on them to see larger versions if you wish.

Apparently, David Attenborough, remarked that it was extraordinary to get two big cats walking the same paths. I’m not going to argue with him!

However, it is not uncommon for leopards and tigers to live in the same area (sympatric lifestyles).

They probably feed on similar prey species although I would expect competition to be small between the two. Leopards generally feed on a wider variety of prey than tigers. Many of their animals are smaller than tiger prey animals. Or they feed on the young of prey animal adults.

However, studies have suggested that leopards don’t alter their targeted prey animals because tigers are present where they live. It appears that they simply eat slightly different prey animals.

Although they walk along the same track and one walks in the footsteps of the other in the Far East of Russia in sub-zero temperatures, the Amur leopard will, as mentioned, avoid the tiger and ensure that they have a means of escape.

Both leopards and tigers use areas of dense cover as resting places during the daytime.

The video footage is remarkable partly for the fact that it is so difficult to film under such hostile conditions. The Frozen Planet II episode is called Frozen Lands.

It took them two years to film a Siberian tiger covering the tracks of an Amur leopard. It was so cold that the cabling snapped. The temperatures were -35°C.

The filmmakers used what appears to be customised software to trigger the cameras at a distance so as not to disturb the tiger and leopard.

They also had to build customised camera units able to work under sub-zero winter conditions. These cameras were left out for months on end.

For the sake of completeness, the huge Siberian tiger in the photograph above is not hugging a tree but scent marking the tree by rubbing his cheeks against it. He is marking his home range out and I suspect that this tree is on the boundary of a place that he calls his territory. I suspect, too, that the Amur leopard will come across this scent and recognise that a Siberian tiger has been here and therefore he can arrange the timeshare properly and avoid the tiger.

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