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Wednesday, 1 November, 2000, 16:42 GMT
Russian Amur leopard faces extinction
An international programme to protect one of the rarest animals in Russia, the Amur leopard, has been introduced in the Far East of the country.
Local officials and the international conservation group, the World Wide Fund for nature, have set up a special unit against poaching in the Maritime Territory to protect the fifty or so animals remaining in the wild.
The WWF says in addition to poaching, the leopard also faces extinction from the loss of its natural habitat which is being destroyed by large-scale economic development and illegal logging. The WWF has called for a referendum on environmental issues in Russia which is says are often ignored by government in favour of commercial interests.