Snow leopard found on the Ukok plateau!
- Environmental NGOs andUNESCO has been striving for the changing of the gas pipeline route to China by-passing the Ukok. Unfortunately, “Gasprom” still doesn’t hear us, - says Alexey Knizhnikov, WWF Russia Oil and Gas program coordinator.
Snow leopard marking signs were found by the “Altaiskiy” Reserve and regional NGO “Arkhar” staff during the expedition to the Tabyn-Bogdo-Ola and South Altai ranges that frame the high-mountain Ukok plateau along Russian-Chinese border. First findings were done on the South Altai range: one of the scent marks had a strong cat’s scent – it allowed the scientists to conclude that the leopard had been there just few days before researchers come. Scent marks’ locations and their freshness give evidences that the South Altai range is inhabited by at least 2-4 snow leopards. It’s a part of bigger transboundary snow leopard population in the border area of Russia, Kazakhstan and China.
- The snow leopard population of South Altai Ridge can be a source of the snow leopards to repopulate the Argut River basin and a migration corridors between Russian, Chinese, Mongolian and Kazakhsnow leopard populations - says Sergei Spitsyn, the head of snow leopard research group in Altai.
According to the specialists, area occupied by snow leopards in the Russian portion of South Altai Ridge is 250-300 sq.km. Siberian Ibex, red deer, marmot, Altaian snowcock and partridge provide local leopards with a prey base. WWF insists on the changing of the gas pipeline route to China which “Gasprom” is going to hack through the pristine Ukok plateau.