8 May 2018
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Caucasian Leopard - official mascot of the BMX World Championships

The Caucasian Leopard is the official mascot of the BMX World Championships, to be held in Baku on 5-9 June. The elements below were the inspiration behind choosing the leopard as the symbol of the championship:

Balance to jump:
Athletes have to use jump elements often at the BMX competitions, which is an extreme sport. Keeping one’s balance is crucial to avoid falling. The Caucasian Leopard is capable of jumping several meters while running or hunting. In this regard, balance is one of its greatest features.

Individuality
BMX is not a team sport, but a race of individuals. The Caucasian Leopards also prefer to keep to themselves.

Symbol of strength and speed
Reaching that finish line first and beating all other competitors require extremely strong legs and speed in the BMX races, similar to most types of sports. It is no secret to anyone that the Caucasian Leopard is the gold standard of speed and strength.

Leyla Aliyeva, the Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the founder and head of IDEA Public Union, initiated a project back in 2012. The project targeted finding five animals in the region, facing extinction, and developed the “Great Five” concept of the Caucasus. One of those animals is the Caucasian Leopard. Since then, IDEA has been undertaking great events to preserve and increase the number of fauna species under danger. The research of the recent 10 years shows that leopards live in the Hirkan forests, Zangazur range, Daridagh, Nehramdagh and Deresham, and the Akhar-Bakhar range to the north of the Mingachevir water reservoir. Overall, around 20 leopards are assumed to live in the entire country, including the territories which are still under Armenian occupation.

Some of the main reasons why leopards face extinction is the direct human factor and the decrease of their food range. IDEA Public Union even organized the first ever International Caucasus Cat Summit in Baku 2014 in order to raise awareness about the Caucasian Leopard and mobilize all efforts in this direction.