WWF attract local people to save the snow leopard in the Russian Federation and Mongolia

 Environmentalists of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Russia and Mongolia have decided to actively involve local communities to protect the Red Book of the snow leopard in the cross-border area between the two countries, reported RIA Novosti project coordinator of the Altai-Sayan branch of WWF Russia Mikhail Paltsyn.

Snow leopard, which number in the world at the present time has been steadily declining in need of special protection measures. Environmentalists believe that there are no resources and not enough to protect the snow leopard from poaching by both state environmental authorities and protected areas. The main task, experts say WWF, involve local people in the conservation of this rare cat. They believe that the community can be economically interested in the conservation of the snow leopard. If people will get to come from the fact that close to them constantly lives snow leopard, then they will be interested in its preservation.

"On the basis of the natural park" Quiet Zone Ukok plateau "in the village of Kosh-Agach we hosted an international seminar on the development of a new project of preservation of the snow leopard in the area of cross-border of Russia and Mongolia, with the active participation of local residents. Main area of the project — the border areas of the Republic of Altai and Tuva in Russia, and Bayan-Ulgii and Uvs aimags of Mongolia. Here there are three cross-border group of snow leopards, the preservation of which is required for recovery of this species in Russia. main idea and objective of the project — to show the local population that the conservation of the snow leopard can bring economic benefits . now the local population does not cost an interest in protecting the rare cats, and in Western Tuva even consider it harmful predator attack cattle. in the loop by the local residents to catch the musk deer, wolf, lynx, die each year a few snow leopards, "- said Paltsyn.

Protection mechanisms

The project will develop several environmental economic instruments Snow Leopard local population. For example, one such mechanism is ecotourism. Since 2010, WWF has been actively developing the project "Land of Snow Leopard", which aims to promote ecotourism in the area of cross-border Altai, Tuva and western Mongolia in local communities.

"The development and promotion of tours" Hunting for snow leopard with photo-traps "is a very promising area of this project: customers are given a unique chance to own hands set automatic camera in the habitat of the snow leopard and get unique photos rare predator. Locals can take over the organization these tours and profit, "selling" living snow leopard clients. And this snow leopard, in contrast to its skin, you can "sell" a few times and make big profits. more snow leopards will live in areas of organizing such tours, the higher the chance shoot them with automatic cameras, and the more attractive the program for tourists. We have spoken with representatives of Russian and foreign travel agencies, and they said that these tours will be in great demand by tourists, "- said the source.

Another mechanism for the conservation of the snow leopard is also based on ecotourism. It is an organization of permanent summer camp volunteer research for the study and conservation of the snow leopard on the base camps of local residents. Such camps, environmentalists say, will attract enough people of different professions who want to touch the sacramental life of the snow leopard and other rare species.

"Local people will be directly involved in the maintenance of such camps — they will have to rent a tent, horses, hire guides, buy food and souvenirs. So, people will have a stable income by inhabiting the snow leopard and will be interested in the preservation of the leopard, which will in some way constant source of family income, "- said the source.

He added that in the Altai Mountains for several years operating a similar program to attract volunteers to the study of snow leopards — "Biosphere Expedition", which each year brings to the Altai region of about 80 volunteers for the study of snow leopards. However, there has so far not connected with the locals and is not doing any work for the conservation of the snow leopard. Currently, WWF and the Biosphere Expedition in talks to restructure the program and its involvement in the implementation of local residents living in the habitat of snow leopards.

Considerable interest as a means of conservation of the snow leopard, according to environmentalists, is the development of the production of various products of local people living in the habitats of rare species, including souvenirs and exclusive products of wool, leather, wood and stone. In particular, it is a promotion of these products to domestic and overseas markets under the brand name of the snow leopard. Such a mechanism would allow local communities to receive substantial profits from the sale of products and will act only in those places where it survived the snow leopard, and its number is not reduced.

"Another tool in our program will be the creation of sustainable hunting. Models such farms built on indigenous communities, is already in the Kemerovo region, such as" Hunting and Fishing Mountain Shoria. "The members of such a society has assigned to them hunting land for a long time (15 years). Obviously, the person will be in such a region, not only to hunt, but also protect it from poachers as their property. Places snow leopard we are ready to establish such services in local communities in Russia . might be able to create some of these farms in Mongolia "- told Paltsyn.

This measure, the source said, is aimed, first of all, on the conservation of wild ungulates, the basis of "diet" red predator, which are currently subject to uncontrolled poaching press.

Urgent measures

However, as emphasized by the ecologist, the implementation of these mechanisms requires a certain time. May take several years to make them work in full force. At the same time, in some places, for example, in the valley Argut in the Altai Mountains, which requires immediate action to preserve and revive the snow leopard. It is believed that once the biggest Russian group of the snow leopard in Argut was almost completely wiped out by poachers at the end of the last century. This spring, the experts found traces first and then get two shots and snow leopards in the area. According to scientists, if the deal with loop fishing, this group can be restored in 10-15 years.

"In the world about ten years working system of payments for ecosystem services. This can be applied to restore the population of the snow leopard, where she was greatly reduced poaching, for example, Argut. We know exactly where snow leopards live, which we were able to capture. Here lives with two or three families of shepherds, who, according to our information, put the loop on the animals, which can get into and leopards. On average, over the winter, they earn around 30-50 thousand rubles due to illegal fishing a loop, for which you can go to jail. We have found donors who are willing to pay the families for 60-80 thousand rubles a year on condition that they stop putting the loop, will fight against poaching and using camera traps prove that the leopard is still living there, and its number is not reduced. Such payments are subject to all the conditions, the main one — to save the snow leopard, is scheduled to make an annual event, as long as the number of snow leopards in the Argut not be stabilized, "- said the source.

According to him, now WWF will seek funds for the implementation of such a program for the introduction of economic mechanisms to preserve the snow leopard.

The snow leopard 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.

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