WWF set the camera traps in one of the most remote snow leopard habitats in Russia
The expedition of snow leopard camera trapping took place in Republic of Altai on Ukok Plateau on initiative of WWF Altai-Sayan Programme funded by M.Video company. The area has always been considered a potential snow leopard habitats, WWF experts received information about snow leopard tracks on the plateau but not a single serious field survey has ever been done on Ukok to search for snow leopard. WWF Altai-Sayan Programme has been planned to search the area but the lack of funding was the reason why the survey of the remote and vast plateau was delayed. Thanks to the support of M.Video, WWF Russia corporate donor this year WWF organized the expedition to Ukok Plateau, one the spots that remained for the snow leopard conservation experts, in partnership with Sailugemsky National Park, Ukok Nature Park.
Initially the experts planned to set 30 cameratraps on the plateau but as they found very little suitable places to make the next field expedition to the cold and remote plateau easier for the rangers they set only 10 cameras on the spots that are very likely to be visited by snow leopard.
There is another problem on Ukok Plateau. Barbed wire border fence was constructed by Mongolia years ago. There is a 50-kilometres-long fence along Russian-Mongolian border that is a clear obstacle for wild animals to migrate. The experts and local people have met dead animals hung on the fence who tried to jump over. At the moment the experts consider removing the fence having agreed upon the issue by both countries’ Governments.
This year we met a lot of tourists on Ukok Plateau who drove 4-drive vehicles which leave deep roads on a fragile soil of the upland plateau in snow leopard habitats. The tourist flow has increased since the ancient mummy of Paziryk culture so-called Altai Princess was found here in and the area was widely known thanks to media. We presume that the tourists might have contributed to the disturbance of the wild ungulates and the predator that prey on them, says Denis Malikov, Conservation Director of Sailugemsky National Park.