WWF will apply a new snow leopard monitoring methodology in Kazakhstan
A new method of snow leopard monitoring will be tested in Kazakhstan. At the initiative of WWF Altay-Sayan Program and with the support of the World Around You Foundation of the Siberian Health Corporation, camera traps will be installed to capture the presence of snow leopards in the East Kazakhstan and estimate the snow leopard population numbers.
At the first stage of
snow leopard survey the researchers of the Institute of Zoology of the Ministry of
Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan will set up a network of
automatic cameras in the Katon-Karagay National Park and nearby Saur and
Tarbagatai Ridges in November 2017. The camera-trapping wil be implemented in
accordance with the new monitoring program requirements.
The second stage of the program will start in February-March 2018 when experts are supposed to check the cameras installed earlier and gather information about the number of snow leopards and its prey. It is exactly the time of the year when the snow leopard tracks on the snow are clearly visible, which makes the field work of experts easier. Nevertheless, the weather condition might affect the effectiveness of the survey and collecting the data about the snow leopards, their prey, cases of poaching. As snow leopards' habitat is located in the highlands the weather is unpredictable and snow cover can be high.
Katon-Karagai National Park is was chosen by WWF for snow leopards monitoring as a part of the Altay-Sayan region, a an ecosystem that lies across the borders of Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and China. Preservation of the biodiversity of the Altay-Sayan ecoregion is one of the most important tasks of WWF.
Snow leopard sign, such as
feces, tracks or scrapes were already registered in Katon-Karagai National
Park. In 2015 four or five snow leopards were counted in winter during the
first census supported by WWF. WWF experts claim that the number of snow leopards in Katon-Karagai National
Park is recovering very slowly after the population was badly destroyed in the 90s.
Unfortunately the expedition initiated by WWF earlier this year in spring and summer did not find a single track of a rare predator in Katon-Karagai. WWF experts think that that there has only been a failure of the field partners and hope that having changed the partner this year the new expedition will bring more promising results.