Forest northern deers are threatened by snow mobile tourists
In the spring and summer of 2021, scientists of Kuznetsky Alatau nature Reserve in the Kemerovo Region examined the habitats of the forest reindeer (Rangifer tarandus valentinae Flerov), in the eastern, central and southern parts of the reserve, conducted raids to fight poachers and organized salt licks where the animals will replenish mineral salts. The total length of the routes was more than 14 thousand km. Field research and raids were carried out with the support of WWF Russia and The World Around You Foundation of Siberian Wellness company.
In the summer, the rangers did not find traces of poaching, but in February and May they saw traces of several snowmobiles and a quad bike. The trails crossed the winter concentrations of reindeer. The camera trap that was installed in these places also disappeared. It might have been stolen by bikers.
In summer the rangers of Kuznetsky Alatau Nature Reserve made four salt licks to attract ungulates to the strictly protected reserve to somehow save them from poaching.
Scientists conducted a visual count of ungulates using binoculars in snow covered mountain areas that are rare in winter. Deer roam around such summer snowfields escaping from blood-sucking insects. The expedition members checked the camera traps and received about 30,000 photographs and thousands of photographic evidence of the reindeer presence in the area.
The footage from the camera traps showed that reindeer visited salt licks more often in July-August and in the mornings, males began to molt on May 10 and ended at the end of July, and females molted from May 17 to the end of August. The beginning of the rut was noted from September 12, and the beginning of the formation and growth of horns in males - from April 20 to August 20.
Kuznetsky Alatau is inhabited by the Kuznetsk-Alatau group of reindeer (Rangifer tarandus valentinae Flerov), a species listed in the Red Book of Russia. This group of animals is very vulnerable and small. Based on information from field studies, the reserve plans further work on monitoring and conservation of the reindeer.
WWF project to protect the forest subspecies of the reindeer in Southern Siberia started in 2021 in Kuznetsky Alatau, the Altai and Tyva Republics. It was prolonged in 2022 and supported by a corporate partner, World Around You Foundation of Siberian Wellness company.