A snow leopard called Champion spotted in Buryatia
The preliminary results of the expedition to the Bolshoy Sayan ridge in the Republic of Buryatia in Russia proves the presence of at least two snow leopards. The snow leopard monitoring in the Republic of Buryatia is a part of annual snow leopard census in Russia has been initiated by Altai-Sayan Programme of WWF Russia since 2016. In 2020 the snow leopard census in Russia was supported by WWF corporate partner, World Around You foundation of Siberian Wellness.
The expedition participants were the biologists and volunteers of Asia-Irbis non-governmental organization, WWF partner in the region. The results are preliminary, the final data of the census will be presented by WWF at the end of April, 2020.
During the snow leopard census on the Bolshoy Sayan ridge the experts surveyed all potential snow leopard habitats such as the open river valleys with little frozen rivers that the snow leopards prefer to walk on in winter. The expedition participants did about 100 km by foot dragging the specific sledges with the cargo staying in hunters’ huts or tents.
The snow leopard habitats in the Republic of Buryatia had been considered just a transit zone for snow leopards before the profound studies of snow leopard population began in 2016 with WWF support and initiative. Since the start of the annual survey by WWF and the biologists of Asia-Irbis Working group the snow leopard males, females and cubs have been registered in the Republic by camera trapping and tracking. The scientists proved that at least nine snow leopards inhabit the mountain area permanently.
Wide –scale snow leopard census in 2020 started in mid-February in the republics of Altai, Tyva and Buryatia, key snow leopard habitats in Russia. The participants follow the regulations of the Snow leopard monitoring programme developed by WWF Russia in 2016 and use the mobile application developed in 2019.