First photos of the snow leopard cubs done in the Argut River Valley in the Altai-Sayans!
First photos of the snow leopard cubs playing devotedly with each other were done by the camera-trap and delivered to scientists by the ex-poacher who had come over the nature protection. In March 2013 a resident from the remote Argut village, ex-hunter for snow leopards, became the partner of WWF Russia and NGO “Arkhar”. According to the contract he gives up on snare poaching and, instead, participates actively in the restoration of the Argut population of snow leopards. Within this project the ex-poacher searches for and shoots the last Argut snow leopards in the remote and hard-to-get places. For this work he obtains reward that exceeds his average income from snare poaching. In May he delivered some photos of the unknown irbis inhabiting the Argut River Valley, and in the end of this year he made a real gift to all project participants – photos of the snow leopard cubs! Little irbises look healthy and strong and don’t blush posing.
“These photos are the evidence of the effectiveness of our work in Altai, - says Sergei Spitsyn, participant of the expedition. – The snow leopards are breeding!”
The Argut population of the snow leopard was once the biggest in Russia, about 40-50 species, but in 1990-s it was almost entirely destroyed by poachers. In 2011 WWF Russia in collaboration with the Altai Project, Snow Leopard Conservancy, Weeden Foundation, Roosvelt Wildlife Station as well as NGO “Arkhar” and Altaiskiy Reserve launched the project on snow leopard research and restoration in the Argut River Valley. Several expeditions organized in this year within the project proved that today at least 5-8 snow leopards inhabit Argut. And it offers hope to restore the whole population!