Snow leopard uses the Shapshal Ridge in Russia only as a migration corridor and does not stay here
Field survey on Shapshal Ridge took place from July, 17 till August, 5. The rangers of Altaisky Biosphere Nature Reserve supported by WWF and “World Around You” Foundation of Siberian Health Corporation, WWF Russia corporate partner, searched through the Shapshal Ridge to track the snow leopard. It’s been the first serious survey since 2005.
The expedition participants made a survey along the western slope of the Shapshal Ridge. WWF expected that snow leopard might inhabit this area if not constantly then during summer time because a viable group of snow leopard inhabits the neighboring Tsagaan-Shibetu Ridge in Republic of Tyva.
The experts found snow leopard scratch in the southern part of the Shapshal Ridge and the tracks of a young snow leopard on clay surface. The camera traps were set in the most favorable places, they will be checked again in September or October.
To get to the Shapshal Ridge the expedition participants had to drive to the boggy area and then change the transport and ride horses or walk. There are areas on the Shapshal Ridge that can hardly be passed even by the alpinists and the experts had hard time moving along and high up the ridge.
During the expedition to Shapshal the experts also tested the new snow leopard monitoring programme developed by WWF Russia in partnership with American colleagues this year. After the field approbation of the programme WWF Russia’s experts plan to introduce the porgramme for all the countries in snow leopard range in the world. It will help to have the same and reliable data as the methods of field survey and data processing will be unified.