Poaching of Siberian ibex threatens the snow leopard on the Bolshoi Sayan ridge
At the beginning of March, 2019 the scientists of Asia-Irbis Working Group (Irkutsk) with the support of Altai-Sayan Programme of WWF Russia surveyed the snow leopard and its prey on the Bolshoi Sayan Ridge in the Republic of Buryatia. The expedition was a part of the annual snow leopard census initiated in Russia by Altai-Sayan programme of WWF Russia. The census is implemented in three regions of Russia, key snow leopard habitats of the rare predator. WWF expects to get the results on the distribution and the number of the snow leopard in Russia by the end of April, 2019.
The experts proved the presence of the snow leopard on the Bolshoi Sayan ridge as the paw prints were registered. The scientists came across the tracks of one and the same snow leopard in four different places. They presume the prints belong to the male as they are quite big and massive. The experts also found the old paw prints of the snow leopard that presumably belong to the female with two cubs. The scat was collected for the DNA-analyses to prove the guessing of the scientists. Unfortunately, no new camera traps’ images of the snow leopard were obtained however other species such as brown bear, lynx, wolverine, wolf, red deer were caught by camera. For the last four years WWF experts have been registering lees and less signs of the snow leopard on the ridge. One of the main reason for the little number of the snow leopard is that the populations of Siberian Ibex—important prey for snow leopards—are in sharp decline.
Snow Leopard monitoring in Buryatia in 2018/ (c) WWF Russia / D. Bekhteref.
It’s been the fourth year since the first wide scale snow leopard census was implemented in 2015 on WWF initiative. This year the census is supported by VTB-Bank, World Around You Foundation of the Siberian Wellness Corporation and Xiaomi. Last winter snow leopard census found 61 snow leopards totally Altai-Sayan Ecoregion.