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Transboundary Altai mountain sheep census started by Russia and Mongolia

12 october 2021
At WWF initiative, Russia and Mongolia are conducting the census of the Altai mountain sheep in the transboundary zone of two countries

Employees of environmental organizations of Russia and Mongolia will work simultaneously in transboundary zone on both sides of the border in Argali habitats. This tactic prevents double counting of the same individuals of a single herd of rare ungulates divided by state borders.

 

Altai argali transboundary in transboundary zone of Russia and Mongolia
(c) A. Kuzhlekov, A. Kuksin, M. Erlenbaeva
“The goal of the field work is to clarify the number of a single group of argali on the border of Russia and Mongolia, the state of the population and assess the effectiveness of environmental protection measures. It is only possible only if the specialists of both countries work jointly as Altai argali is a migratory species, it is important to count animals on both sides of the border at the same time. For the first time in Russia, experts will use the NEXTGis Collector mobile application to record argali census. The mobile application was developed by the Moscow company NEXTGis by WWF initiative. The technology provides for accurate data registration by tapping on the screen instead of filling out inconvenient paper forms: this will save time and energy for researchers”, says Alexander Karnaukhov, Senior Coordinator of Altai-Sayan Branch of WWF Russia.

In Russia, the census participants are: in the Altai Republic on the Saylyugem and Chikhachev ridges - the Saylyugem National Park, the Altai Reserve, the Committee for the Protection, Use and Reproduction of Wildlife Objects, in the Tuva Republic on the Mongun-Taiga ridge - the Ubsunurskaya Kotlovina Reserve and the Tyva Natural Park. From Mongolian side, the Argali census is being conducted by a joint team from WWF-Mongolia, Altai Tavan Bogd Protected Area Administration, the Department of Environment and Tourism of Uvs province, and local volunteer rangers from Sagil and Bukhmurun soums, Uvs province.

Rangers and scientists use the specific mobile application in the field.
(c) WWF

The results of the census will be announced in December 2021. Based on the results, nature conservationists will assess the effectiveness of environmental protection measures. Today, the main threats to argali are poaching for the sake of a trophy, climate change, and habitat changes.

 

Altai argali transboundary census in 2017, by Ivan Usanov

Altai mountain sheep is a migratory species. According to WWF data, the results of the latest full-scale international surveys of argali in 2019 prove that the number of Altai mountain sheep in the transboundary zone of Russia and Mongolia has grown by 166 individuals since 217 and amounted to 4841 individuals. On the territory of Mongolia, experts counted 3420 mountain sheep, in Russia 1421, of which 1304 in the Altai Republic, 117 in the Tyva Republic.

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