Transboundary Cooperation in the Tumen River Basin Is the Key to Amur Leopard Population Recovery in the Korean Peninsula

By 26th December 2023Conservation Papers


The interconnected forest regions along the lower Tumen River, at the Sino-North Korean border, provide critical habitats and corridors for the critically endangered Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis). In this region, there are two promising corridors for leopard movement between China and North Korea: the Jingxin–Dapanling (JD) and Mijiang (MJ) corridors. Past studies have confirmed the functionality of the JD corridor, but leopards’ utilization of the MJ corridor has not yet been established or confirmed. In this study, we assessed the functionality of the MJ corridor. The study area was monitored using camera traps between May 2019 and July 2021. We also analyzed 33 environmental and vegetation factors affecting leopard survival and analyzed leopard movement. In the Mijiang area, the Amur leopard was mainly active in the region adjacent to the Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park and did not venture into areas near the North Korean border. The complex forest structure allowed leopards to move into the Mijiang area. However, the high intensity of human disturbance and manufactured physical barriers restricted further southward movement. Therefore, human-induced disturbances such as grazing, mining, farming, logging, and infrastructure development must be halted and reversed to make the Mijiang region a functional corridor for the Amur leopard to reach the North Korean forest. This necessitates inter-governmental and international cooperation and is essential for the long-term survival of the Amur leopard.

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