Snow Leopard Ski Marathon in the Heart of Asia
Ski for snow leopard conservation in Tyva! It was the slogan of the Snow Leopard Marathon hold om March, 16 in the Republic of Tyva, Russia, in Tyva Nature Park. The region is both the very heart of the snow leopard habitat and the Heart of Asia. The marathon is the idea of WWF Altai-Sayan Programme, conservation and sport organizations of the region.
In 2018 the marathon was hold for the second time and brought together 95 participants from three Siberian regions to ski in and call for snow leopard conservation. Prior to the event WWF installed the mobile photoexhibitions “Spotted Treasure” in the main square of Kyzyl city, the capital of the Republic of Tyva. Key snow leopard experts and sportsmen came together for a workshop to discuss threats and opportunities for the species in the region.
As a part of the official agenda Natalya Trofimova, the Director of WWF Altai-Sayan programme met with Sholban Khopuya, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the First Vice-Head of the Government to discuss the action plan for 2019 including the involvement of local people into conservation, antipoaching activities, public inspection, transboundary cooperation with Mongolia. Later Natalya joined the marathon.
During the marathon all participants could take a picture of fluffy panda, WWF symbol, and the snow leopard WWF made exclusive medals with snow leopard for all winners and participants. Women competed in 30-kilometre-long race, men in 50-km-long race. For juniors the marathon had 20-kilometer-long route and all kids could compete in 500-metre-long distance just to get the participant’s medal. Alexander Kuksin, WWF expert, famous in Russia snow leopard conservation expert, the Vice-Director of Ubsunurskaya Kotlovina Nature Reserve also joined the race. Three skiers formed the specific Snow Leopard team and were dressed in the costumes with snow leopard pattern.