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Barbed wire dismantled at Russian-Mongolian border for the free migration of wild animals

09 october 2020
In the Republic of Altai on the Ukok plateau, the area was cleaned of old border fences for free migration of wild animals

Eight kilometers of unused engineering facilities on the border with Mongolia and China were dismantled in the Republic of Altai on the Ukok plateau. The barbed wire was removed by rangers of the Directorate of Specially Protected Natural Areas of the Republic of Altai with the support of WWF-Russia and VTB Bank. Today the wild animals can migrate freely from one country to another and back: Altai mountain sheep, Siberian mountain goats and snow leopards. Later, inspectors of the Directorate of Protected Areas of the Republic of Altai will install automatic cameras on the Ukok plateau to get video evidence of the free migration of animals.

THE DIRECTORATE OF ALTAI PAs REMOVE THE WIRE ON THE UKOK PLATO. (c) VIDEO D. BEKHTEREV

“In the Republic of Altai the engineering structures at the border of Russia with Mongolia and China was installed in 1988-1989. The barbed wire fence line stretches for almost 70 kilometers. For many years, barbed wire has been crippling animals, who have been migrating from the territory of one country to another for centuries. People artificially blocked these migration trails a wire barrier. In the Republic of Altai, the Altai mountain sheep and Siberian ibex are the most affected species on the border. These ungulates are the main prey for the snow leopard. During migration, animals try to overcome the barbed wire, get injured and die, entangled. WWF-Russia and WWF-Mongolia have repeatedly drawn attention to the problem of a barbed wire fence that is no longer needed, but there was no progress in the Altai Republic until this year. WWF-Russia welcomes the permission of the Federal Security Service of the RF to dismantle the barbed wire at the border which is no longer needed. This will save many wild and domestic animals from painful death”, ”says Alexander Karnaukhov, Senior Coordinator of WWF-Russia in the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion.
Removing barbed wire in Altai
(c) WWF / Dmitry Bekhterev

In 2020, with the support of WWF-Russia, in agreement with the Federal Security Service of the RF in the Republic of Altai, employees of the Directorate of Protected Areas of the Republic of Altai dismantled eight kilometers of barbed wire on the border with Mongolia and China on the territory of the Ukok plateau. WWF Russia provided fuel, transport. A special hydraulic press-machine was purchased so that barbed wire could be pressed into a suitable “cubes” to be loaded onto a truck and taken out from the remote territory of the Ukok plateau. Inspectors manually dismantle the wire, transport it by car to the place where a hydraulic press is installed, with the help of which the metal wire is compressed into compact briquettes.

We have not been permitted to dismantle the barrier at the border no matter how urgent the matter was. For 30 years, the wooden pillars of the barbed wire fence have partially rotted, and the barbed wire simply lies on the ground, which poses a danger both for wild animals that traditionally migrate over the territory of the Ukok plateau, and for domestic animals that graze here”, says the director of the Directorate of protected areas of the Republic of Altai”, says Aydar Oynoshev.
Dismantling barbed wire
(c) WWF / Dmitry Bekhterev

WWF-Russia and WWF-Mongolia have repeatedly appealed to the Governments of the two countries with a request to dismantle the barriers at the sites for the migration of wild animals, indicated specific areas, cited the results of tracking the migration routes of mountain sheep using radio collars.

In 2012, the General Border Administration of Mongolia partially removed the barbed wire fence in some sections of the border. Today, work on the elimination of lines of engineering and technical structures has begun in Russia. Next year, it is planned to completely dismantle and remove unused fences from the territory of the Ukok Quiet Zone natural park.

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