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Премия рунета 2017

WWF will apply a new snow leopard monitoring methodology in Kazakhstan

16 november 2017
WWF will install camera-traps in Katon-Karagai National Park

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 cameras will be installed in Katon-Karagai National Park and along Saur and Tarbagatai Ridges.
(c) ASBK

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.

Snow helps finding the snow leopard tracks easier.
(c) WWF

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.

During snow leopard monitoring in Katon-Karagai the field experts will apply the new monitoring technique. Thus, Kazakhstan along with Russia and Mongolia will become the third country to test a new  monitoring programme for snow population estimation. The new program was developed by WWF Altai-Sayan Program’s experts  in collaboration with the scientists of the State University of New York in 2017. The method involves careful selection of camera sites, a special approach to the cameras' installation (division into sectors, the evaluation of the distance between cameras, etc.). The programme also introduces the computer analysis of the collected data.
The territory of Katon-Karagai National Park
(c) Katon-Karagai National Park
"Snow leopards’ population numbers in the world are estimate only approximately, experts claim that world snow leopard population varies from 4000 to 6000 animals. Moreover, different countries apply different approaches to collecting the information on snow leopard range, numbers and distribution. Snow leopard conservation community across the globe searches for “a reliable, and preferably simple and inexpensive, method for monitoring population changes over time”. The new method developed by WWF Russia allows to count the minimum number of snow leopards in the key habitats which will help studying and preserving one of the most secretive felines,’ says”, says Alexander Karnaukhov, WWF Altai-Sayan Programme Senior Coordinator. “The new method of snow leopard monitoring that WWF offers to use around the world will allow us to find out the minimum number of snow leopards in the main habitat of these predators and to optimize the studying and preserving of one of the most secretive felines”.

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.  

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