We are sad to have to share the news with you that Borna, the first leopard equipped with a satellite GPS collar in the Middle East, has been found dead in Tandoureh. He was the largest leopard we investigated there and was famous among visitors to the park due to the stunning pictures so many were able to take of him.
He was first spotted by our crew in late September 2014, when he was trapped along a trail leading to wild pig. Estimated to be 4–6 years old, GPS location data retrieved from his collar showed he was a territorial resident male in the eastern margins of Tandoureh who made regular visits to villages near the park. Nevertheless, he never killed a domestic animal during his periodic excursions among people apart from one sheep. His collar detached automatically after one year, in September 2015, thanks to the advanced drop-off mechanism deployed on the collar. After that, based on camera trap images, he moved into inner parts of the national park. In 2016, almost all visitors to Tandoureh had the good fortune to encounter a calm and relaxed leopard, with their photographs all confirming that it was Borna they had seen.
After summer 2017 we never spotted him again, either directly or on the camera traps, making us wonder with growing anxiety what had happened to this very large and healthy male. Then, sadly, our crew found a destroyed carcass near a spring at the margin of the park, with the time since death estimated to be at least one month. A small patch of rosette markings remaining on the face confirmed that he was our famous leopard, Borna. The condition of the body did not permit determination of the cause of death of this animal, who was believed to be around eight years old, when a leopard is in its prime. The information we gained from tracking Borna helped to revolutionize our understanding of a leopard’s food requirements, its ranging patterns and how it coexists with humans.