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Family Ski News | July 16, 2024

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The Tortoise and the Leopard

Teresa Fisher

When it comes to planning the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, it’s not exactly the story of the ‘Tortoise and the Hare’, but rather that of the Tortoise and the Leopard… 

This week the Olympic organisers have launched a number of environmental projects, in the wake of World Environment Day on 5 June.    

One of these new initiatives – the “Attention to the Tortoise” – is being supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Sochi branch of the Russian Geographic Society.  It aims to help save the 200-million-year-old Nikfolsky tortoise, still found on the Black Seacoast but under threat of extinction.

The tortoise is the second animal that Sochi 2014 is supporting.  The first is the leopard – a project launched several years ago which resulted in President Vladimir Putin released a leopard from Iran into Sochi National Park in 2010 – the first step in an initiative to re-establish the Caucasian leopard population.  Currently it is thought that only a handful remain in the wild.  

Planting trees for a 'greener' Olympics

Other less eye-catching environmental projects have also started, including an effort to develop nature trails around Sochi in time for the games.  Back in May, nearly 2,000 new trees were planted as part of a Russian Green Marathon, as we reported here.   
Sustainability and the environment clearly remains key for the Sochi 2014 organisers. 

As Dmitry Chernyshenko, the Sochi 2014 President and chief executive, said of this week’s initiatives: “This once again confirms the organisers’ aspiration to create a ‘green’ legacy that will remain long after the Games for generations to come.”

Here at, we don’t want to appear too sceptical, but didn’t the Sochi Winter Olympics project receive a fair amount of criticism on environmental grounds recently?… 

Perhaps these projects are a high-profile way of countering such criticism?  While we’re all for reintroducing animals into their natural environment, surely you wouldn’t be deliberately encouraging leopards to be close by the immediate area for a forthcoming Olympic Games?!