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Премия рунета 2017

WWF searching for snow leopard on Sangilen mountains

17 january 2018
WWF expedition explored the south-western part of the mountain ridge where the the tenth cluster of the Ubsunurskaya Kotlovina Nature Reserve is planned to be established.

WWF expedition explored the south-western part of the mountain ridge and  set camera in compliance with new monitoring programme. The tenth cluster of the Ubsunurskaya Kotlovina Nature Reserve is planned to be established in the area searched by WWF. Capturing the photo evidence of snow leopard presence here might help catalyze the process.

The expedition in November, 2017 was attended by the rangers and the director of the Ubsunurskaya Kotlovina Nature Reserve with support of the World Around You Foundation of the Siberian Health Corporation. The expedition searched through the Sangilen mountains, set camera traps. In spring the experts plan  to visit can check the camera traps again. If the snow leopard is captured by a camera it’ll be a sensational image, the first ever image of the snow leopard on Sangilen ridge in Tyva. Today the experts only have the evidence of the local people who reported on the tracks of the snow leopard they have come across and the scat they have seen. The analyzes of the scat collected during the previous research proved  that it beloned to the snow leopard. 

The expedition to Sangilen ridge
(с) WWF / Ivan Usanov
Mountains of the south-western and the south-eastern of Tyva is one of the key habitat of snow leopard in Russia. The experts have been monitored snow leopard since 2004 and in 2010 the first camera traps were set in Tyva and the first analyzes of the scat was made. Tsagaan-Shibetu and Shapshal ridges have been studied quite well by the scientists but Sangilen ridge remains poorly studied due to its remotenessю There is no any protected area in the region and the research is very important. New data on flora and fauna will provide solid background for establishing a new cluster of the Nature Reserve, says Alexander Karnaukhov, WWF Altai-Sayan Senior Project Coordinator.

Apart from searching for the tracks of the snow leopard on Sangilen mountains the expedition participants field tested a new snow leopard monitoring programme developed on WWF initiative in 2017. The methodology implies division of all area into 5-kilometres-long cells, the specific principle of camera setting. The unified approach to monitoring provided all teams follow the same principle of field work and data processing would help the experts on snow leopard conservation obtain the reliable and comparable data on the number and status of the rare predator populations. 

Camera trapping on Sangilen mountains
(c) WWF / I. Usanov

Preparing for a hard and resource-consuming expedition WWF and VTB-bank provided the Ubsunursksy Nature Reserve with necessary equipment and field uniform such as the oven for tents, a Mobiba winter tent, winter sleeping bags, automatic cameras, accumulators for cameras, memory cars etc. 

Our rangers made winter raid to Sangilen, a remote and hard-to-reach area. We’ve been planning the routes carefully and the preparation period took long time, but turned out very difficult and exhausting. The new monitoring programme we tested still looked quite complicated but it is the next step – to simplify and update the methodology considering all rangers’ findings and suggestion, says Vladislav Kanzai, the Director of the Ubsunurskaya Kotlovina Nature Reserve.
Sangilen mountains is one of the snow leopard habitat.
(c) WWF / I. Usanov

Setting a camera trap on Sangilen

Snow leopard monitoring was first made by the Ubsunurskaya Kotlovina Nature Reserve in 2009. They reported on the presence of minimum of two snow leopards in the area but in 2014-2015 neither camera trapping nor DNA-analyzes resulted in finding snow leopard’ traces on Sangilen.  The expert claim that poaching remains one of the reasons for low snow leopard number on Sangilen.

Expedition to sangilen

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