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The argali population in the Altai-Sayan is growing

18 december 2014
Results of the Altai mountain sheep’s census showed 23 % increase of population within last 2 years. 2,400 individuals were counted in Russia and Mongolia

Traditional census of Altai mountain sheep - argali - held in the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion in October and November simultaneously in Russia and Mongolia. The border between Mongolia and Russian Altai and Tuva Republics is a main habitat of this rare species. Animals are constantly moving within this territory so far this monitoring method requires coordination of actions from the two countries.

The 5th counting covered thousands square kilometers of Russian and Mongolian Altai. This year experts from Altaiskiy reserve, Sailugemskiy National Park, regional public organization “Arkhar” and specialists from Mongolian Directorate on Protected Areas have participated in the field work.

“This is really a great challenge to cover so big territory in transboundary area. We can do this only with help of strong communication and collaboration. There for the preliminary workshop held in Kosh-Agach before the census started, - says Project Coordinator from WWF-Russia Altai-Sayan office, Tatiana Yashina.”

Data analysis shows that mountain sheep population number has stable positive trend: this year more than 2400 animals were counted together in Russian and Mongolian sites and it is 450 animals more than in 2012. 

The coordinator of argali monitoring from the Russian part, Sergey Spitsin says that two years before there were much more traces of poachers in the area. This year the situation is much better. It may cause increasing of argali population in Altai habitat.

The expert’s opinion is confirmed by the data from argali monitoring programme that WWF held since 2003. So the number of population increased at least two times since last 10 years.  This year there were about 820 animals in Russian part of habitat: 500 – on the Sailugen Range and 300 – on the Chikhachev Range. On the Mongolian site there were more than 2200 animals counted and 1500 from them were exactly on the border with Russia. 

 «This positive trends give us very good emotions because argali is one of the key species in Altai-Sayan Ecoregion, - says Manager of Altai-Sayan WWF’s office, Alexander  Bondarev. And this trend is not an accidental coincidence but a result of a multi-year cohesive work of different environmental organizations and enthusiastic people!»