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.