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THE MOST CAMERA-FRIENDLY SNOW LEOPARD OF 2021 CHOSEN AS A RESULT OF EXPEDITION OF SAILYUGEM NATIONAL PARK AND WWF RUSSIA
Премия рунета 2017

THE MOST CAMERA-FRIENDLY SNOW LEOPARD OF 2021 CHOSEN AS A RESULT OF EXPEDITION OF SAILYUGEM NATIONAL PARK AND WWF RUSSIA

25 november 2021
The snow leopard known to researchers as T01, more often than other snow leopards, has been caught in camera traps installed on the Yuzhno-Chuisky mountain range in the Altai Republic.

Such is the conclusion reached by the participants of a recent expedition. According to the staff of Sailyugem National Park, a total of 7 snow leopards live on the Yuzhno-Chuisky range, with no more than 12-14 individuals within the boundaries of Sailyugem National Park. In all of Russia in 2020, 65 snow leopards were registered.

The work to preserve the snow leopard on the Yuzhno-Chuisky range is carried out by employees of Sailyugem National Park with the support of WWF Russia and the World Around You Foundation of Siberian Wellness Corporation.

T01 the snow leopard.
(с) Sailyugem National Park
“Snow leopards are curious, like all felines. If they notice a camera trap, they sniff it, bite it with their teeth, and can knock it down with their paws. There were cases when snow leopards dragged cameras under rocks, and experts found their precious equipment only a couple of years later. But this snow leopard is calm”, says Alexander Karnaukhov, project coordinator of WWF Russia in the Altai-Sayan ecoregion. "The snow leopard remains one of the most secretive and little-studied felines in the world. Videos like this allow us to study the behavior of these animals and spy on their life in the absence of people."
Employees of Sailyugem National Park during an expedition to the Yuzhno-Chuisky range
(c) Denis Gulyaev

As a rule, cameras are installed in places where experts find snow leopards' scent marks or scrapes, therefore, on videos and photos available to scientists the animals are often seen marking the territory. In a new video with T01, taken during the expedition of the national park and WWF Russia, the snow leopard, on the contrary, is gracefully lying as if posing for the camera. In all his glory, he is perched on top of a cliff; below, there is a mountain valley and a river. The snow leopard is lying on the ridge and licking himself. Perhaps he is resting after a hearty lunch or sprucing himself up and cleaning his fur. The video was filmed in bright daylight, which is already unique. Snow leopards are active at night, and most of the automatic camera videos were filmed in the dark, which is often enough for scientists, but makes it difficult to admire the beauty of the animals. The video also clearly shows the snow leopard's luxurious tail, which can be as long as the body and serves as a rudder when snow leopards jump on rocks.

It is impossible to establish the sex of the animal, but scientists suggest that T01 is a young dominant male actively exploring the territory.

T01 CONTEMPLATING THE SURROUNDINGS.

The expedition to the Yuzhno-Chuisky range was held to find new snow leopard habitats in Altai at the initiative of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Sailyugem National Park with the support of the World Around You Foundation and participation of local residents. 

“During the expedition, we interviewed herders who live at the ridge territory and in the lower reaches of the river. The shepherds confirmed that snow leopards had lived here for a long time; they increasingly see pugmarks and have even met snow leopards in nature. Automatic cameras installed on the ridge also more often record the rare predator: about 3-5 passes per month. The Yuzhno-Chuisky range is an important snow leopard habitat in Altai, and further research is needed”, says Denis Gulyaev, senior researcher at Sailyugem National Park.

Camera traps have also registered other well-known snow leopards: a male named Khan, snow leopards with code names T02, T03 and T04, as well as a female, previously unknown to researchers, with two cubs.

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