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Премия рунета 2017

Snow leopards protect livestock

03 october 2014
Nature Park “Tyva” became the second protected area after Sayan-Shushensky Reserve in Russia where the permanent habitation of stable snow leopard grouping was registered.

This is the conclusion of the specialists from the nature park «Tyva» and biosphere reserve «Ubsunurskaya kotlovina» at the end of the monitoring work supported by WWF-Russia in the period from March to September 2014.

At the projecting stage of the plot «Shui» in the nature park experts anticipated the possibility of the Shui river basin to be a habitat for a large group of snow leopards.

«Nowadays this plot is one of the most successful protected areas designed especially for the snow leopard and its habitat conservation in Tuva Republic» - says Alexander Kuksin, the head of the monitoring expedition and high quality expert of snow leopards in ASER.

There are some reasons for such conclusion: this part is situated in the strictly protected zone of the park and covers different landscapes from forests to snow picks. There are also habitats for other species like siberian ibex, red deer, roe deer, altai marmot, wild boar and partridge in this area. Weak roads development, inaccessibility and isolation of the area minimize impact from human activity. This area is like a “natural reserve”.  People are present here only in summer for cattle graze.

The first stage of the field work in March allowed to install 7 WWF’s camera traps in the territory. Rangers of the park developed skills in support of cameras and methodology of the snow leopard census.

As the result specialists got new pictures of the irbis in May. There were also photos of other different species: Siberian ibex, fox, altai ular. Four pictures taken in one place give an idea of a female irbis individual territory plot. And already in September first pictures of a snow leopard cube was taken in this place. Experts say that age of cubes was about 3 months. In this age there explore actively their territory and follow their mother everywhere.

A very important feature of this project is support of the local population. “There are no wolfs In the Shui river valley where is my livestock – says local herder Chimiskei Monge. I think that it is because of the presence on the snow leopard. Down to the river where is no irbis, there are many wolfs. My brother has lost more than 1000 young sheep for this season. Therefor we have to conserve this wild cat in my region.”

Monge helps to park’s rangers with transport if they need to get to the territory. He also helps to check camera traps in monitoring expeditions.

“It is so wonderful to see happy face of the man who leaves his lifetime close to nature and has just got a picture from the camera trap, - says Alexander Bondarev, manager of WWF office in Altai-Sayan Ecoregion. We’d like to say “Thank you!” to our partners who provide this work: “Siberian health” for financial support of the expedition and “Energizer” for providing batteries to our cameras. Hope that this important work will continue in future”