Environmentalists first found traces of the snow leopard in the southern Altai

Ecologists first discovered the footprints and other evidence of life on the Red Book of the snow leopard Southern Altai mountain range, which had never organized an expedition to search for and study of the predator, told RIA Novosti on Monday, the expedition leader to monitor the snow leopard, Altai reserve researcher Sergey Spitsyn.

According to experts, the snow leopard — the shy and secretive predator. That is why the number of records it is most often performed on paw prints and trace fossils (droppings, hair, claw marks on trees and on the ground.) Where such evidence is most common, the scientists set camera traps, which help more accurately determine the number of a group of animals. Earlier in the Altai Mountains, according to environmentalists, lived at least 80 leopards. Now, because of poaching, there were no more than 30-40 individuals.

On the border with China

Last expedition to monitor the snow leopard in the Altai Mountains Altai reserve held by ecologists, regional public organization "Arhar" and by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Russia at the end of August. Ecologists have investigated ranges, adjacent to the south to pay Ukok — areas that have never been studied for snow leopard. Scientists conducted a kind of intelligence.

"In those places just experienced heavy rains, causing water fords got up in the same place we have even sunk machine that helped acquire and renovate border. Finally themselves to ranges we went on foot. But such our hard way immediately brought excellent results, "- said Spitsyn.

Ecologists have found on the ridge South Altai fairly fresh tracks of the snow leopard and the place where the predator methyl territory (the labeling).

"It is clear that these places are suitable for camera traps here for further observation Irbis. If we had with them was at least one camera, we would set it up here. However, it was scouting expedition, but because the camera we had," — said the ecologist.

Ecological corridor

Assessment Spitsyn, in these places, mountain passes and Betsy Canas Canas, just possible ecological corridor to move the snow leopard in the valley Argut where ecologists set about restoring a once-largest population of this predator in Russia.

According to experts, this corridor will be necessary "fed" argutskoy population groups from the main core of the snow leopard. First of all — from China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan.

Also during the expedition environmentalists found a single mark on the neck of the snow leopard Tabyn-Bogda Shan and Saylyugemskom Ridge.

"Obviously, he comes here, but rarely. But it is understandable, because in these places little spurs that are suitable for the snow leopard," — said the source.

According to ecologists, formerly Valley Argut lived in the Altai Mountains 30-40 ounce, not so much now and throughout the country. In the years 1970-1990 the animals were almost completely destroyed by poachers. Now environmentalists and scientists Altai with WWF Russia set out to identify the surviving remnants of this group and ensure effective protection of the territory, to revive the population of the snow leopard in the area. According to experts, the potential group of snow leopards in the Argutemozhno recover in 15-30 years. In the late winter of this year, the researchers found in the valley Argut first traces of predators, and in April-May, the first shots of camera traps, in which "caught" two snow leopard.

And six snow leopards …

On the return journey the expedition check camera traps set on a ridge Chikhacheva. Snow leopards are posing in front of cameras on a regular basis. In the last expedition of scientists even managed to get pictures of the kittens, the names of which are now coming up with the whole country.

"In Chikhacheva we received new pictures of snow leopards in five camera traps. Addition, we filmed Pallas, who is also a Red Book rare animals. We are very happy that it is possible to take pictures of these animals, because it means if you do not increase, or at least stable groups" — said Spitsyn.

Only on the Russian side of the ridge Chikhacheva, according to experts, the camera traps at different times got six snow leopards. It is the most stable group of the predator in the Altai at the moment. According to experts, it is very important because it provides a link to the main groups of Russian population-core Mongolia.

"We also got a lot of photos of Red argali. On most images is females with young," — he added.

Spitsyn said that work on the study of snow leopards in the Altai is costly, which environmentalists have failed to achieve without help. Buy automatic camera equipment, to cover the costs of the expedition to help the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Russia, organizations such as the Snow Leopard Conservancy, Foundation "visible" and The Altay Project.

Snow leopard (ounce) is an endangered species. The Red Data Book of the Russian Federation and was awarded the first category — "look, which is under threat of extinction at the limit of the range." The total number of snow leopards in Russia, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Russia, is no more than 80-100 individuals, most of whom are concentrated in five key groups in the south of the Krasnoyarsk region, Tuva and Altai Mountains. In the Altai Mountains, according to WWF Russia, there are about 30 of these predators.

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