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WWF Russia equips a wildlife forensic laboratory in snow leopard habitats

22 september 2021

The crew of professional wildlife forensic experts and a properly equipped laboratory will appear on WWF initiative and support in the city of Gorno-Altaisk, the capital of Altai Republic, the heart of snow leopard habitat in Russia.

The enforcement of wildlife forensic science on a local level will contribute to implementing snow leopard conservation action plan for Altai-Sayan ecoregion.

WWF claims that the local laboratory for wildlife research and wildlife forensic biological examinations in the Altai Republic will shorten the time for investigation and decision-making by the court in cases of illegal hunting, smuggling, illegal trade and will increase the percentage of their detection.

The idea was supported by the World Around You Foundation of Siberian Wellness Corporation, a long-term partner of WWF in the conservation of the snow leopard and rare species of birds of prey.

State Veterinary Inspection of the Russian Federation
(c) WWF
“Today, wildlife forensic capacity of the governmental agencies is very low. For instance, in Altai Republic, the key biodiversity area in Siberia, neither wildlife forensic laboratory experts just don’t’ exist. All wildlife biological samples, such as the remains of animals’ bodies, horn, remains of illegal hunting, have to be taken 350 km away to the only closest lab located in Barnaul, a capital of a different administrative unite. The appearance of the team of trained veterinaries and the equipment needed for the tests will enforce the antipoaching and save time of wildlife crimes investigators”, says Alexander Karnaukhov, Senior Coordinator of Altai-Sayan Branch of WWF Russia.

In summer with WWF support two veterinaries of Veterinary Committee with the State Veterinary Inspectorate of the Altai Republic already had 72-hours-long “Pathological autopsy of animals and forensic veterinary expertise” training in Primorsky Agricultural Academy (in the Far East region of Russia, famous for its Amur Tiger). 

Training of the vets of the Veterinary Committee with the State Veterinary Inspectorate of the Altai Republic
(c) WWF

Since July the trained vets (certified employees of the veterinary service) have already conducted 8 studies at the request of law enforcement agencies, the results have not been made public yet as the cases are being investigated.

The laboratory will be fully equipped by the end of the year. The laboratory will be located in the Veterinary Committee with the State Veterinary Inspectorate of the Altai Republic. The biological examination will include examination of hunting products, which will determine the species, age, the cause and nature of the damage, etc. The laboratory is aimed to providing assistance to law enforcement and environmental organizations in the field of criminal and civil law, including cases of illegal hunting or cruelty to animals, etc.

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