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Media exposes Putin’s snow leopard stunt

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin with Mongol the snow leopard. According to independent conservationists the cat was captured and held in a cage for a week so that Putin could exploit it’s socalled ‘release’ as as a media opportunity.

It’s gratifying to see that the media has picked up on Russian Prime Minister Putin’s snow leopard stunt. Initially most media outlets ran with the story that Putin’s media machine wanted them to. A snow leopard had been saved from poacher’s and the PM in his role as protector of wildlife, was releasing the poor animal in the wild.

Meanwhile snow leopard conservationists in Russia knew the real story. Mongol the snow leopard was abducted from his habitat in a nature reserve, airlifted 100 miles to a neighbouring region, and held in captivity for a week before Mr Putin’s came to ‘release’ him. Injuries he was supposed to have sustained through poachers were in fact caused by the poor animal throwing himself against his cage for a week, bloodying his nose.

Novaya Gazeta Daily reported that the snare was set up by scientists not poachers and ‘Mongol’ got his injuries in the cage trying to escape.

“Seeking freedom, he lunged at the iron bars and broke his nose,” wrote the paper, citing independent conservationists. Let us hope that having been caught out by the both the Russian and international media Mr Putin now stops this sort of outrageous exploitation of an endangered animal for his own political ends.

My earlier post on this story here.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Jennifer Castner March 30, 2011, 9:19 am

    It is interesting that despite promises by Putin’s office and the Severtsov Institute, that no information has been made public about Mongol’s whereabouts post-release. That makes me think that the satellite-tracking collar isn’t operating properly.

    Also, on the Severtsov Institute’s website, there is a 3/28 press release in which they distance themselves from involvement in the now-cancelled planning killing of snow leopards in Mongolia. The press release states that Severtsov Institute had only agreed to study biological material from living snow leopards or leopard remains found in the wild or obtained in captivity. The 3/28 release belatedly calls for the cancellation of the planned SL killings in Mongolia. Odd, that.

  • Laura Palacios March 30, 2011, 1:35 pm

    Wonder if there is a way to track Mongol from now , as you mention he is released into wildlife, what are you planning to do in order to protect him, also have you seen him and know how its his health? Thanks , hope to hear good news.

  • Sibylle March 30, 2011, 2:12 pm

    Would not be surprised if the tracking collar doesn’t work. It appears that no-one involved was experienced in best practice of this type of snow leopard research.

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