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Camera traps caught snow leopard catching flies in Altai

23 june 2022
The unique video received local peopel of Altai Republic who joined snow leopard conservation project of WWF

A funny camera trap video received by residents of the Kosh-Agachsky district of the Altai Republic. The camera was installed in the habitats of the snow leopard. In the footage, a snow leopard marks the ground near a tree, and then moves its head, following the flight of a fly. Irbis diligently leaves marks on the ground near the larch, and then tries to catch the annoying insect, playing with it. Large wide paws of the snow leopard are visible, which help the animal move on snow and stones, and a long tail-balancer when jumping over rocks

Snow leopard catching a fly

Since 2015, the project to involve residents of the Kosh-Agach district in the protection of the snow leopard has been implemented by the WWF and the Sailyugemsky National Park. In 2022, the villagers protect at least 13 snow leopards on an area of ​​200,000 hectares.

Local people of Altai Republic set camera traps and help conservationists
(c) WWF / Denis Gulyaev

Since January 2022, project participants - local residents - have recorded at least seven snow leopards in the Argut River valley and six snow leopards on the South Chuisky ridge. A well-known female was filmed at night with two cubs, one of them sniffs the camera, because, like all cats, snow leopards are very curious, you can hear the cubs’ breathing. The dominant male Sailu defiles in front of the lens and then marks the stone. The photoe model of the Argut valley, the male Yunchi, captured again, like other previously unknown snow leopards.

Snow leopard of the Argut river valley

“These images help study the elusive animals. The uniqueness of the shots is that the images were taken not by professional ecologists, but by residents of villages in the habitats of the snow leopard in the Altai Mountains. The involvement of the villagers in the protection of the snow leopard forms a reverent, positive attitude of the local population towards a rare predator, helps to understand and love the mysterious beast so as to never raise a hand to such beauty. The project participants themselves set up camera traps, see a beautiful animal in the footage, recognize individual individuals, name the snow leopards, learn to appreciate the snow leopard, and strive to save it. This is the main goal of the project,” says Ilya Morozov, WWF project coordinator.
“Since January, local residents have recorded 59 snow leopard passes, of which we have identified 13 snow leopards by spots. Every year, employees of the Saylyugemsky National Park conduct additional trainings and field trips together with project participants - local hunters and cattle breeders - repeat the basics of installing camera traps, collecting information and reporting violations. Unfortunately, modern methods of collecting information, such as a mobile application for monitoring animals, are still difficult for villagers to master,” says Denis Gulyaev, project coordinator in Altai, senior researcher at the Sailyugemsky National Park.

Female with two сubs

In total, five villagers in Altai, both experienced participants and newcomers from the villages of Argut, Dzhazator, Kosh-Agach, help nature conservationists: they find traces of the life of the snow leopard, install camera traps to calculate the number and condition of a rare predator, report violations encountered, remove loops and traps. Since January, project participants have received and experts have analyzed 6,973 photos and videos, of which 214 are footage of the snow leopard.

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