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Премия рунета 2017

The numbers of Altai mountain sheep population in transboundary zone of Russia and Mongolia has risen

07 november 2019
WWF Russia and WWF Mongolia sum up the survey results

A survey completed in the Mongolian and Russian habitats of argali in October, 2019 shows that the numbers of the transboundary population of the world’s largest sheep has risen by 176 individuals since 2017 when the latest survey took place.

In 2019 WWF estimated that 4851 argali comprise up the Russian-Mongolian transboundary population. 1431 sheep found in Russia (1314 in the Republic of Altai, 117 in the Republic of Tyva) and 3420 in Mongolia. Since 2017 the numbers have risen by 135 argali in Russia and by 40 in Mongolia.

The monitoring of the transboundary argali population is an official duty of two countries as stated in the Agreement of Russian-Mongolian Joint Commission on environmental protection signed in 2018. Every two years the experts work simultaneously in both countries to ensure there is no double counting of the same animals. They follow the same methodology according to the approved Monitoring Program for Altai argali in transboundary zone of Russia and Mongolia.

Argali in Sailugemsky national park, Russia

“Effective protection of argali also helps other species. For instance, in the Republic of Altai, in Russia on the Sailugem ridge Altai mountain sheep remains the main prey for the snow leopard as the number of the Siberian ibex, the snow leopard’s most common prey, has been diminishing for the last years. Without argali the snow leopard would migrate from Sailugem. Protecting the sheep, we help the snow leopard survive”, says Alexander Karnaukhov, senior coordinator of WWF Altai-Sayan Programme.

Apart from counting the numbers of argali during the census the experts registers other factors important for effective conservation such as deceases, deaths, number of predators, old and new threats, collect information from local people. Monitoring is the key instrument to identify the exact species habitat, threats and other condition. Tracking the number changes helps evaluate the conservation success. 

(c) WWF / Denis Malikov
(c) WWF / Ivan Usanov
(c) WWF / Ivan Usanov
(c) WWF / Ivan Usanov
(c) WWF / Ivan Usanov
(c) WWF / Alexey Kuzhlekov
(c) WWF / Alexey Kuzhlekov
(c) WWF / Alexey Kuzhlekov
(c) WWF / Alexey Kuzhlekov
Altai mountain sheep census
(c) WWF / Denis Malikov, Alexey Kuzhlekov / Ivan Usanov

The Russian-Mongolian transboundary population of Altai mountain sheep inhabits the mountain area in Altai-Sayan mountain country right along the borderline of two countries. The grouping of animals is divided by the countries’ borders but the animals migrate from Russia to Mongolia and back and face threats in both countries.

Poaching, shrinking and changing of argali habitats due to climate change and unsustainable pasture management and infrastructure development in the argali habitats remain the major threats to the species on Russia and Mongolia.

Since 2014 WWF Russia and WWF Mongolia have united the efforts working with partner organizations to protect the endangered animal. Law enforcements, awareness raising and solid scientific base for monitoring were the key issues to stop the grouping number to go down. WWF has been supporting the establishment of protected areas, in order to protect the argali.


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