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Премия рунета 2017

WWF Russia pioneers in snow leopard monitoring

15 april 2019
Russian scientist tested the first in the world mobile application for snow leopard monitoring
At WWF Russia’s initiative, the first in the world mobile app for surveying snow leopard populations was tested in Russia during annual wide-scale snow leopard population survey. This is the fourth time the survey has taken place with WWF’s initiative but the first time new technologies have been introduced. Usually experts use paper survey forms, entering data about animals encountered, tracks, excrement, marking sites, and location waypoints.
‘Snow leopard monitoring is one of the most labour-intensive: work takes place at high elevation in winter months, with low temperatures and high winds. Smartphones with mobile apps significantly ease the inspectors’ work, requiring only selecting the desired item on the screen and adding information about their find. Moreover, data about time and location coordinates are recorded automatically. Specialists use the NextGIS Collector app to study snow leopards and their prey’, said Alexander Karnaukhov, Senior Coordinator of WWF Altai-Sayan Programme.
(с) WWF / Leonard Takhanov The rangers of the Nature Parks of the Republic of Altai used the mobile app to register the spray of the urine on the rock.
(с) WWF / M. Akchin The survey participants ready to have a rest, the tent is set. Next morning the experts were awakened by the cry of the snow leopard roaming close but could not see him as it was too dark.
(с) WWF / M. Akchin The rangers of Ak Cholushpa Nature Park set the camera trap on the mountain ridge near the scratch of the snow leopard.
(с) WWF / Leonard Takhanov The rangers of Nature Parks of the Republic of Altai discovered the snow leopard track and registered it using the photocamera.
(с) WWF / Leonard Takhanov The rangers of Nature Parks of the Republic of Altai discovered the snow leopard track and registered it using the photocamera.
(с) WWF / Denis Gulyaev Denis Malikov, the Vice-Director pf Sailugemsky National Park set the camera trap.
(с) WWF / Denis Malikov The scratch on the larch made by the snow leopard in the Argut river valley in the Republic of Altai.
(с) WWF The smartphones were charged before the field expedition with the use of power banks provided by WWF Russia’s corporate partner The World around You Foundation of Siberian Wellness Corporation.
(с) WWF / Alexander Kuksin The ranger of Tyva Nature Park filled the paper tables during the snow leopard survey in 2016 (Archive).
(с) WWF / Alexander Kuksin The ranger of Tyva Nature Park measured the snow leopard track. Just to make sure that they do not lose all data in case of wrong working with the app the experts in Tyva also filled the old-fashioned paper forms.
(с) WWF / Alexander Kuksin The habitats of the snow leopard in the Republic of Tyva
(с) WWF / Dmitry Bekhterev The track of the snow leopard on the Eastern Sayan Ridge.
Snow Leopard Survey in Russia in 2019
(c) WWF / M.Akchin / L. Takhanov / D. Gulyaev / D. Malikov / A.Kuksin / D. Bekhterev

A specialized collection of surveying forms was developed by WWF experts and the Moscow-based NextGIS company in 2018. WWF supporters and corporate partners provided significant funding for this work. Such as support for app development, experts’ training and purchased the smartphones. Prior to the survey in 2018 WWF provided the key survey participants from the protected areas and local NGOs with the smartphones. The results of the first field test of the new app are inspiring. The experts reported that the app was easy to use and helped a lot to ease the field work. 

‘Today WWF Russia and partners are the world pioneers at developing the unified approach and tools for survey data collecting and introducing the innovative technologies into snow monitoring. In 2017 the first snow leopard monitoring programme was presented and in 2019 WWF Russia contributed by introducing the new mobile app. WWF Russia’s new findings were welcomed by all snow leopard range countries at the last meeting of GSLEP that took part on 3-4 April, 2019 in Bishkek. Since the developing of beta-version of the mobile app the snow leopard experts from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, China and India have been interested in applying the same technology in their countries’, said Alexander Karnaukhov, Senior Coordinator of WWF Altai-Sayan Programme.
(с) WWF / Dmitry Bekhterev The experts of the Working Group Asia- Irbis (Irkutsk) had a rest before going down the slope during the snow leopard survey on the Eastern Sayan ridge.
(с) WWF / Dmitry Bekhterev Sergey Malykh, the Head of Working Group Asia- Irbis (Irkutsk) studied the tracks on the snow during the snow leopard survey on the Eastern Sayan ridge.
(с) WWF / Alexander Kuksin The ranger of Ubsunurskaya Kotlovina Nature Reserve of the Republic of Tyva measured the snow leopard tracks.
(с) WWF / Nature Park Tyva The rangers of Tyva Nature Park registered the found excrements with the help of the app.
(с) WWF / Nature Park Tyva The rangers of Tyva Nature Park registered the found excrements with the help of the app.
(с) WWF / Dmitry Bekhterev Sergey Malykh, the Head of Working Group Asia- Irbis (Irkutsk) during the snow leopard survey on the Eastern Sayan ridge.
(с) WWF / Lubov Ivashkina He Bin, Coordinator on Snow Leopard Conservation of WWF China (in the centre) at the final workshop on app results in Russia (11-12 April, 2019).
(с) WWF / Lubov Ivashkina Alexander Karnaukhov, Senior Coordinator of Altai-Sayan programme of WWF Russia during the press-conference at the end of the workshop on the results of app testing on 11-012 April, 2019.
(с) WWF / Lubov Ivashkina Sergey Malykh, the Head of Working Group Asia- Irbis (Irkutsk) and the colleague from Tadjikistan discussed the app during the final workshop on app results in Russia (11-12 April, 2019).
(с) WWF / Alexei Kushlekov The ranger of Sailugemsky National Park heading towards the mountain after a night at the house of the local people who assist the experts during the snow leopard census.
(с) WWF / Danil Barashkov The expert ready to set the camera trap on the Eastern Sayan Ridge.
Snow Leopard Survey in 2019 in Russia
(c) WWF / D. Bekhterev / A. Kuksin / L. Ivashkina /

At the moment all snow leopard range countries lack the unified methodology for snow leopard monitoring which would provide for clear and comparable data to effectively assess the conservation success. Having reliable information on status and distribution of the snow leopard provides for better targeting the key areas for conservation and addressing threats to the rare species. 

Snow Leopard in the Republic of Tyva

‘Less than 3 percent of the global snow leopard range has been surveyed using rigorous population estimation methods. WWF Russia’s pioneering work towards refining field methods and innovative use of technology to achieve high accuracy in recording field data will add significant impetus to ongoing global efforts towards generating robust estimates of snow leopard abundance’, says Rishi Kumar Sharma, Snow Leopard Conservation-WWF International.
For additional information please contact
Altai-Sayan ecoregional press-officer
Senior Project Coordinator