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Snow Leopard named Khan in Russia travels for a hundred kilometers

08 february 2021
Camera traps of WWF and Sailugemsky National Park confirmed movements of a dominant male snow leopard

Automatic cameras of WWF and Sailugemsky National Park recorded a male snow leopard named Khan in the western part of the South Chuisky Range in Russia, Siberia, near Mongolia border. A year ago, camera traps recorded Khan in the eastern part of the same ridge. Scientists conclude: Khan moves a hundred kilometers in a straight line along the territory of the South Chuisky ridge of the Altai Republic.

Khan snow leopard
(c) WWF / Sailugemsky National Park
“If the predators travel such long distances, they may lack prey. For snow leopards in Russia, the main prey is the Siberian ibex, the number of which on the South Chuisky ridge had been decreasing every year. In fact, the distances covered by snow leopards can be more than a hundred kilometers, but the snow leopards do not move in a straight line, they move around the territory of the hunting area, methodically patrolling their possessions”, comments Alexander Karnaukhov, Senior Project Coordinator of the WWF-Russia’s Representative Office in Altai- Sayan ecoregion.

WWF experts and WWF’s partners, the biologists of the Asia-Irbis NGO from Irkutsk city, have already recorded the movement of snow leopards over a 100-kilometres-long distance in a straight line. In 2018, in the Buryatia Republic, on the Eastern Sayan ridge, camera traps recorded the snow leopard called Munko who travelled over 110 kilometers in a straight line from the point he was registered by camera traps before. In winter of 2021, Munko also checked in Mongolia at a distance of more than 150 kilometers from the point of point in Russia where he was registered by automatic cameras.

A male snow leopard named Khan in the Kosh-Agach District of the Altai Republic has been recorded by camera traps since 2013. Khan became the first Russian snow leopard that was captured on video with an ordinary camera not a camera trap.

Khan snow leopard in 2012 (c) Ivan Usanov / Sailugemsky national park

Khan's image was captured by cameras set in 2020 by local residents of the Altai Republic who are the participants of the joint snow leopard conservation project of WWF-Russia, Pernod Ricard company and the Salugemsky National Park. The project’s goal is to involve local residents in the protection of the snow leopard through providing them with the alternative income from camera – trapping combined with an awareness programme. Since 2015, Altai villagers who live in snow leopard habitats close to Mongolian border in the very heart of snow leopard habitat in Russia, have become volunteer to conservationists: they set up camera traps, report on environmental violations, and receive a reward for this. Thus, local hunters little by little change their attitude towards the rare predator and gain a more positive attitude towards a species, they begin to appreciate the animal and strive to protect the snow leopard, and give up poaching.


Snow leopard captured by local people of Altai in 2020
(c) WWF / Sailugemsky National Park

In 2020, in the Republic of Altai, five local residents became participants of the project. In total, hunters have installed and are checking 30 automatic cameras on an area of ​​more than 300,000 hectares. Last year, animals, most likely wolverines or bears, damaged four camera traps. In 2020 the local residents registered 74 passes (appearances) of snow leopards in the Kosh-Agach region of the Altai Republic using cameras. 

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