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Searching for the Snow Leopard in Belukha Nature Park in Altai

17 september 2015
The experts of Katunsky Nature Reserve (Republic of Altai) completed the field research in the area of Belukha Nature Park to identify the traces of the snow leopard and study the fauna (mammalian fauna) of the Park.

The expedition was a part of the big joint project of WWF and the «The world around you» Foundation aimed to conserve the snow leopard’s habitat in Russia and Kazakhstan.

In early September the researchers explored the basins of the Ermak and Maly Kulagash Rivers, the most remote and rarely visited areas of Belukha Nature Park. These parts of the Katunsky Mountain Ridge were explored for the first time. The rangers and scientists hiked over 100 km along the harsh mountain where the tracks od the snow leopard are more likely to be found.

The explored area was proved to be the habitat of the major snow leopard prey – the Siberian ibex. The photo trap was set along the mountain trail. The nearby forests are the habitat of the musk deer, the species heavily threatened in the region.  The musk deer males are poached for the musk gland. The poachers’ snares become a deadly weapon for the other rare species including the snow leopard faces. While researching the area the wardens found the poachers’ snares and a closed metal trap.

“It was the first expedition of the joint project of WWF and “The world around you” Foundation, comments Tatiana Yashina, Altai-Sayan Leading Project Coordinator.  Next time in winter we are planning to research the basins of the Kucherla and Akkem Rivers. The set of camera traps will be set to monitor the presence of a rare cat.”

A metal trap found on the banks of the Yermak River
© Yevgeny Rakin
Checking the camera trap
© WWF России / Yevgeny Rakin