Elusive and rare leopard — considered extinct for 45 years — caught on film in Turkey

Screengrab from Vahit Kirişci’s Facebook video

Trail cameras in the mountains of Turkey captured a rare sighting of a leopard species previously considered extinct for decades, officials said.

The Anatolian leopard was filmed prowling around the mountains in two separate regions, Turkey’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said in a Thursday, Jan. 26, news release. Vahit Kirişci, a ministry official, shared footage of the wildcat on Facebook.

The video shows the leopard walking through various mountainous terrains. Most of the videos were filmed during the day, but one clip shows the elusive animal moving through tall grasses at night.

Anatolian leopards are an endangered species, Turkish officials said. The last leopard was thought to be killed in 1974, and the species was considered extinct for 45 years. However, a male Anatolian leopard was spotted in 2019.

Researchers have traced the rare leopard species to four regions in Turkey, but little is known about the animal’s population size and distribution, according to the release. Anatolian leopards move frequently and can travel more than 15 miles a day.

Turkish officials did not specify where the leopard was seen or when the different videos were taken.

Experts estimate only 10 to 15 Anatolian leopards still live in the wild, according to Biology Online. The species was nearly driven to extinction because of trophy hunting.

Turkish officials will continue tracking the leopard caught on camera, Kirişci said.

Google Translate was used to translate the news release from Turkey’s Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture. Facebook Translate was used to translate Vahit Kirişci’s Facebook post.

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