WWF searching for snow leopard on Sangilen mountains
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.
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.
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.
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.