International Snow Leopard Day
International Snow Leopard Day was established on October, 23. Committed to raising awareness for the plight of an iconic species, the twelve Asian countries that are home to the cat have declared October 23rd, 2014, to be International Snow Leopard Day in 2013 at Global Snow Leopard Forum took place in Bishkek.
The Forum became the first ever meeting of all representatives of 12 snow leopard range countries platform of meeting for 12 countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. In 2013 Bishkek Declaration was adopted as the first ever document to promote snow leopard conservation and define the major steps towards the preservation of the species worldwide.
In Russia, the Snow Leopard inhabits only the territory of Southern Siberia, within the boundaries of the so-called Altai-Sayan ecoregion, a single mountain ecosystem where four countries come together. The Altai-Sayan region is acknowledged by WWF experts to be one of 200 ecoregions worldwide with the highest level of animal and plant species diversity.
No more than 2% of the Snow Leopard world population inhabit our country. The Snow Leopard is the most northern of its kind in the world. Thus, like any animal species at its habitat boundaries, it lives in severe conditions. According to recent wild-scale snow leopard survey in Russia initiated by WWF there are about 70 snow leopards in the wild, the presence of 50 of them is confirmed by camera-trapping.
Snow leopard in Sailugemsky NP
WWF Russia initiates and funds annual snow leopard census and its prey, the Siberian Mountain Goat, in Altai-Sayan ecoregion. The first large-scale snow leopard census took part in 2017, with the largest number organizations and experts participated (from volunteers to nature reserves, national parks and nongovernmental organizations).
In 2017 at the International Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Forum in Bishkek the experts of WWF Russia first proposed to use the same snow leopard monitoring programme for all 12 snow leopard range countries. The programme was developed by WWF Russia in 2017 with the help of the experts of New York University.
In accordance with the new set of methods, reports will only be carried out in the habitat areas of species groups already well-known by experts, instead of covering the whole species habitat area. The automatic camera installing procedure will also be altered (the territory will be divided into surveillance cells, the cameras will be distributed around sectors, etc.) and digital analysis of gathered data will be employed.
In honour of the International Snow Leopard Day 2017, a number of different events have already taken and will be taking place in different regions of Russia within the Snow Leopard habitat. In Krasnoyarsk WWF organized an event in Roev Ruchei Park of Flora and Fauna , where Dragon Snow Leopard lives. The guests of the Snow Leopard Day played games, participated in a quiz and had a chance to write a postcard for the ‘Irbis”.
In Republic of Altai, WWF and the Saylyugemsky National Park will conducted a survey on the Day among the residents of the Kosh-Agachsky District, the area where the rare predator is most frequent in the Republic. In Gorno-Altaisk a photoshoot with a plush Irbis will be organized in the central city square, and drivers will be given car stickers calling to stop Snow Leopard poaching. Katunsky Nature Reserve and members of Kids Clubs of WWF Friends will arrange a celebration in the central square of the Ust-Koks village with quizzes, games, “nature reserve tea” and, of course, the Snow Leopard, the hero of the occasion.
In Republic of Tuva, under the Ubsunurskaya Kotlovina Biosphere Nature Reserve initiative, “The Irbis”, an ecological art festival was held in the anticipation of the Day. Amateur photographers, skilled stone carvers, artists, and sculptors had an opportunity to demonstrate their talents struggling for the main prize. The only condition of the festival was to devote all the presented works to the Snow Leopard and the issues of the preservation of this rare predator.
The Snow Leopard Day will be also taking place on 26 October in the Kyren village, Buryatia Republic. Under WWF and the Tunkinsky National Park, a district festival “The Land of the Snow Leopard” will be fist celebrated. For many years, this festival for schoolchildren and other local residents has been held in the neighbouring Altai and Tuva Republics.