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Altai mountain sheep population has risen by 1303 in the transboundary zone of Russia and Mongolia

24 december 2021
WWF-Russia and WWF-Mongolia sum up the results of the transboundary argali census

A survey completed in the Mongolian and Russian habitats of Altai mountain sheep in late October, 2021, shows that the numbers of the transboundary population of the world’s largest sheep is 6189 individuals. The number has risen by 1303-1394 individuals since 2019 when the latest survey took place and the number of sheep was 4851.

Argali herd in Ubsunurskaya Kotlovina Nature Reserve
(c) WWF
“WWF of two neighboring countries literally count the numbers of Argali that live across the state borders of Russia and Mongolia. Scientists and rangers conduct census at the same time period, each group in its own country separately but they simultaneously and constantly stay in touch. It helps exclude the double-counting. Later all data collected in the field such as tracking routes, photos and GPS-coordinates, are checked by experts in-doors”, says Alexander Karnaukhov, Senior Coordinator of Altai-Sayan Branch of WWF Russia.
Ubsunurskaya Kotlovina Nature reserve rangers during census (2)
(c) WWF / Ubsunurskaya Kotlovina nature reserve
"In Mongolia the census covers more than 90% of the Argali habitat in the border area. We consider age and sex of the ungulates, track the coordinates of the identified areas on a special registration sheet. To get the total number the experts do not use the extrapolations methods, but use the visual observation during field work. The location of each identified herd is mapped using Google Earth software and a GPS. Therefore, it is clear where and how many Argali sheep were”, added Dr. Munkhtogtokh O., biologist WWF-Mongolia.

In 2021 WWF estimated that the Russian-Mongolian transboundary population is 6189 argali, of which 2094 Altai sheep recorded in Russia and 4095 in Mongolia. Since 2019 the numbers have risen. However, Altai argali population in Chikhachev ridge (Altaian, Tuvinian and Mongolian parts) has decreased by more than 200 individuals (163 in 2021, 367 – in 2019).

Roe deer and Siberian ibex jerds also spotted during the census in Tyva Republic.
(c) WWF / Ubsunurskaya Kotlovina nature reserve

The monitoring of the transboundary argali population is an official duty of two countries as stated in the Agreement of Russian-Mongolian Joint Commission on environmental protection signed in 2018. Every two years the experts work simultaneously in both countries to ensure there is no double counting of the same animals. They follow the same methodology according to the approved Monitoring Program for Altai argali in transboundary zone of Russia and Mongolia.



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