Conservation biologist Alice Laguardia is a co-author on the study, and hopes that the findings and the media attention its attracted will spur action to conserve leopard habitat.
"The international conservation community had not yet recognised the dramatic decline of leopards, especially in China," she said. "Our study has highlighted that the endemic supspecies P. p. japonensis has lost up to 98% of its historic range. Now it's up to us to make the best use of this knowledge and act urgently to reverse this trend."
Study co-author and SCB member Jan Kamler coordinates the Southeast Asia Leopard Program for Panthera. His research with Panthera has shown that the Indochinese leopard has lost 95 percent of its former range in Southeast Asia, putting this unique subspecies precariously close to extinction. The Indochinese leopard was not alone. The paper showed that leopard populations in other regions are suffering a similar fate.
In response to this conservation crisis, Panthera has expanded their Leopard Program to include Southeast Asia, and Kamler is establishing long-term monitoring nodes in the last remaining leopard populations in Southeast Asia, which includes sites in Cambodia, Malaysia, and Thailand. He plans to include the Critically Endangered Javan leopard into the program next year.