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Премия рунета 2017

Snow leopard’s life was saved in Altai, Russia

19 march 2020
Rangers found and destroyed the wire snare found on an animals’ trail during snow leopard census in Russia

At least one snow leopard’s life was saved by a scientist of Sailugemsky national park in the republic of Altai, Russia. During the snow leopard census, initiated and supported this year by Altai-Sayan Programme of WWF Russia and World Around You Foundation of Siberian Wellness corporation, a poacher’s wire snare set on a mountain animal trail was found by rangers.

“A snare wire was found in a remote and hard-to-reach place tied to a log fixed by a rock. It’s obvious the snare was set to catch a snow leopard and no other animal. Snow leopards like this kind of terrain and the one would obviously get into a loop of a set snare and strange oneself to death”, says Alexey Kuzhlekov, the scientist of Sailugemsky national park.

The footage Alexey filmed with a mobile phone on the spot showed that the scientist untied the snare and destroyed it. After that Alexey set a camera trap in the area. A week after the camera captured the snow leopard walking in the area close to the trail as poachers predicted. The snow leopard was the one known to the scientist, the male snow leopard called Yunchi. The animal might have died of suffocation if he walked along the trail with a trap. 

A snare set to catch a snow leopard
(c) WWF / Alexey Kuzhlekov

In the area not far from the spot where the poacher’s snare was found by Alexey he filmed another log which has become a famous log. The log was used by poachers to tie the wire snares in the past. The log had marks from wire being tied to it. The poachers used to hunt here but they do not do it after Sailugemsky national park was established. At the moment the area is being patrolled by the national park’s rangers. Today the camera traps register snow leopards that like to walk near the log and leave claw marks on it. For example, the family of Yuta (former Yu-1) female snow leopard with two cubs was registered last year. This March Yunchi male snow leopard visited the area.

This expedition of scientists and rangers of Sailugemsky national park to the Argut river basin was the first field trip of the snow leopard census of 2020 in Russia. The annual census this year as usual was initiated by WWF Russia and supported by World Around You foundation of Siberian Wellness corporation.  

Snow Leoaprd census in the Republic of Altai
(c) WWF / Denis Gulyaev
“This winter in Altai was warm, the river didn't freeze along the whole river. It made difficult for the experts to make all planned routes by foot or horse. The weather conditions are quite alike in the neighboring region that will affect the results of the snow leopard census. In Argut are the experts found fresh snow leopard excrements, paw prints on snow. A camera captured one snow leopard, presumably a male. A local herder also reported that he observed two snow leopards on a mountain ridge”, says Alexander Karnaukhov, Senior Project Coordinator of WWF Altai-Sayan programme.

Wide –scale snow leopard census in 2020 started in mid-February in the republics of Altai, Tyva and Buryatia, key snow leopard habitats in Russia. The participants follow the regulations of the Snow leopard monitoring programme developed by WWF Russia in 2016 and use the mobile application developed in 2019.



For additional information please contact
Altai-Sayan ecoregional press-officer
Senior Project Coordinator