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WWF RUSSIA CLEARS THE MIGRATION ROUTES OF ANIMALS ON THE BORDER WITH MONGOLIA

16 november 2021
In the Altai Republic, on the border with Mongolia, barbed wire has been removed for free migration of animals

In the Altai Republic, on Ukok Plateau, on the border with Mongolia, 14 kilometers of engineering and technical structures have been taken down for the free migration of wild animals. The work was carried out by employees of the Directorate of Protected Areas of the Altai Republic with the support of WWF Russia and the World Around You Foundation of Siberian Wellness Corporation in agreement with the Border Service of the FSB of Russia in the Altai Republic.


Inspectors of the Directorate of Protected Areas of the Altai Republic are removing barbed wire on Ukok Plateau
(c) Evgeny Butushev

Engineering and technical structures were installed back in the eighties of the last century on the high-altitude Ukok Plateau, where the borders of four states meet: Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and China. The structures are a long fence tens of kilometers long with rows of barbed wire stretched between wooden posts. At the same time, Ukok Plateau is a unique natural area, a habitat for rare species of animals, and a UNESCO world heritage site, where the Ukok Quiet Zone nature park was created in 2005. For many years, barbed wire fences had blocked the migration routes of animals, killed wild animals and birds that tried to overcome the obstacle, and crippled domestic animals of the cattle breeders who live on Ukok Plateau. 

In the summer and autumn, another 14 km of "thorns" at the border were dismantled, and the passage for animals was cleared.
(c) Evgeny Butushev
“This year, 14 kilometers of barbed wire were taken down at the most remote section of Ukok Plateau. Now this territory is open for the passage of wild animals from one country to another. This will ensure the genetic exchange between the groups of various animal species. Taking into account the work in 2020, 22 kilometers of the wire fence have been eliminated so far. The removal was carried out by employees of the Directorate of Protected Areas of the Altai Republic with the help of local residents. Working on this high-altitude, inaccessible plateau was extremely difficult: barbed wire was removed by hand, posts were sawed, and the dismantled structures were dragged to the truck. A hydraulic press was purchased in advance, turning coils of wire into compact briquettes, transported later by inspectors in trucks," says Alexander Karnaukhov, senior project coordinator of the WWF Representative Office in the Altai-Sayan ecoregion.

Today, the 22 km section, which was used by wild animals for migration, is free of barbed wire, only 500 meters of barriers remain to be taken down in a remote corner of Ukok Plateau. In the near future, with the support of WWF, camera traps will be installed to check how the animals are getting used to the new site, and how the migration is going. 

Removal of barbed wire in the autumn of 2021.
(c) Evgeny Butushev

A barrier of engineering and technical structures on Ukok appeared at the end of the 1980s. Many kilometers of fences made of wooden posts and barbed wire walls affected the free migration of animals living on the unique high-altitude plateau. With a request to dismantle the old barbed wire on Ukok Plateau, WWF Russia turned to the Border Service of the FSB of Russia in the Altai Republic several years ago. In 2020, the permit was obtained. WWF Russia welcomes the permission to remove the barbed wire, as this will save many wild and domestic animals from painful death. The work was supported by VTB Bank and the World Around You Foundation of Siberian Wellness Corporation. 

 Photo above: Evgeny Butushev.

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