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Snow leopards attack cattle in a new site of Russia

19 april 2021
WWF is heading to mountains to find out the reason

Experts of Altai-Sayan Programme of WWF Russia launch the project in partnership with Sailugem National Park, a key partner in Altai Republic on snow leopard conservation.

This spring the rangers and scientists of Sailugem National park will go around the herding camps located on South-Chuya Ridge to collect data on predators’ attacks on cattle, assess the attitude of the herders towards the rare snow leopard, raise awareness among local people on snow leopard conservation, assess the conflict level and develop the conservation plan based on the findings. 

The sitesof snow leopards' attack on cattle in Altai Republic
(c) WWF / Sailugemsky National Park
«Retaliatory killing of the snow leopards is still at threat to the rare cat in Russia. In Altai Republic the attacks of snow leopards on cattle in the mountain area had been rare. Since 2013 when Sailugemsky National park was established with WWF support the antipoaching activity has been enforced in the area. Nowadays snow leopards gradually start to roaming in a new sites of Kosh-Agach District they used to inhabit. We witness that the number of snow leopards has risen for some groupings, such as the group in the Argut watershed area if Altai Republic. This all means that we have to think in advance and prevent the potential conflicts with local herders in the mountainous areas”, says Alexander Karnaukhov, Senior Project Officer of Altai-Sayan Branch of WWF-Russia.

During the expeditions in spring the rangers and scientists will also set camera-traps in the most favorable places for snow leopards and the sites where snow leopards attacked cattle in 2019-2020. 

“This spring a local herder reported to Sailugem NP that a predator’s attacks on its cattle. He said that snow leopards had been attacking his cattle for two years in this site. When we traveled to the site of attacks it was clear that the sheep were killed by snow leopards not wolves: we found tracks around, one of the local herders saw three snow leopards with his eyes. The camera trap set close to the site had captured a female snow leopard with two cubs. She might have attacked the cattle because there was enough prey for her family or she was weak and sick. We need to find it out”, says Denis Gulyaev, Scientist of Sailugem National Park.

A female with two cubs captured by camera trap near the site of attack

Today WWF is discussing the possibility of compensating for the cattle loss in Altai Republic. If herders feel, they are cared for and left to deal with the problem on their own it might lead to a more positive attitude towards snow leopards that kill cattle. 

WWF making peace between snow leopards and herders of Tyva Republic
(c) WWF / Karim Dongak

Retaliatory killing of the snow leopards is a threat in the whole snow leopard world range. In Russia this threat is common only for Tyva Republic but still has to be addressed. WWF Russia applied all possible methods to make herders of Tyva Republic live in peace with snow leopards: compensation schemes, electric fences, repairing corrals to prevent predators enter through the ventilations holes on the rooves.

 

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