Maybe it’s a little perverse of me, but today I’m going to celebrate a piece of good news about leopards and tigers: Russia has just opened its first roadway improvement designed to protect big cats, on its Siberian border with China.
The Narvinskii Pass tunnel runs for about a third of a mile underneath a major migratory route for Amur leopards and tigers. They’re two of the most endangered big cats in the world, and just to give you a sense of the hazard they face from increased highway traffic in the region, check out this dash-cam video (skip to about 30 seconds in).
Until recently, there wasn’t all that much traffic from Vladivostok down to the border, and there was just a gravel road across the Narvinskii Pass. But over the past 15 years, according to Dale Miquelle, a tiger specialist in the region for the Wildlife Conservation Society, a major city has sprung up on the Chinese side of the border, and a busy four-lane highway now crosses through critical leopard and tiger habitat, with the usual highway barriers on the sides. Miquelle credited Sergey Ivanov, chief of staff to Russian President Vladimir Putin, with taking the initiative to protect the leopards. .. see more