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Chikacheva Ridge is the home of five snow leopards

09 october 2019
IX snow leopard monitoring and conservation volonteer expedition "Tracking the Snow Leopard" is back with the good news

IX volunteer expedition “Tracking the Snow Leopard” completed in the Republic of Altai on the Chikhacheva ridge. The annual volunteer expedition to Mount Chikhacheva is headed by Sergei Spitsyn, a key WWF expert and the scientist of Altaisky Nature Reserve's.

This year the volunteers identified 5 individual snow leopards in this Russia-Mongolia transboundary area, including the oldest dominant male Khorgai, who has been appearing on camera since 2011, and Guta, a frequently appearing female who had two kittens this year. WWF Altai-Sayan Programme and World Around Foundation of Siberian Wellness Corporation supported a part of field survey. The volunteers came to the border with Mongolia to collect snow leopard camera trap data, survey the prey base and other indicators. 

IX volunteer expedition “Tracking the Snow Leopard”
(c)Daria Chuprak
«Guta snow leopard female again had cubs this year. We did not register the camera traps images of the cubs as they are too small. We guessed judging by the images of Guta, her belly was too loose and the nipples too big, it means that she has had babies. As the snow leopard is extremely rare in Russia every litter of snow leopards’ cubs is a luck for the scientists.”, says Sergei Spitsyn, a key WWF expert and the scientist of Altaisky Nature Reserve's.

Another snow leopard we ‘ve been following by cameras for years was Khorgai, the oldest of all known snow leopard we register. This year Khorgai travelled too far to the middle part of the Chikhacheva ridge. It might have been provoked by the little number of prey this year as the cameras had not registered enough Altai mountain sheep. 

Volonteer expedition
Daria Chuprak
«I participated in VI volunteer expedition “Tracking the Snow Leopard” and I can assure that it is not amateur working. The volunteers are really and deeply involved into conservation. They do not only do conservation but also raise awareness on snow leopard, organizing the expedition, contests etc. They influence the people behavior and attitude, their position, says Larisa Buyantueva the Head of World Around You foundation of Siberian Wellness.

Самка Гута

“As the volonteers are headed by a professional expert all camera traps are set according to the Snow leopard monitoring progeramm developed by WWF in 2015. The area is divided into cells (squares) by 5 to5 kilometers, a camera is set almost in each cell to cover the larger area and provide for more efficient monitoring”, says Alexander Karnaukhov, senior coordinator of WWF Altai-Sayan Programme.

The Chikhacheva ridge is located at the border of Russia and Mongolia/ WWF claims there are about 70 to 90 snow leopard left in Russia. The results of the snow leopard census of 2019 proved that the minimum number of animals registered is 65 individuals including 23 cubs.

The volunteer expedition “Tracking the Snow Leopard” is the only volunteer project in Russia to help scientists study the snow leopards. The ordinary businessmen Igor Pautov was motivated and touched by the professionsl work of Sergei Spitsyn in 2015. He organized the first expedition of ordinary people who paid for all expenses, came to Altai to set the camera traps and help the scientists. The main goal of the annual expedition to both help scientists and motivate the ordinary people for new steps. 

For additional information please contact
Senior Project сoordinator