Tourist route the habitats of snow leopards and argali appear in the Altai Mountains

Environmentalists of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Russia this year are going to run the ecotourism route through the Altai, Tuva and Mongolia habitats argali (argali) and the snow leopard for photographers and wildlife enthusiasts, told RIA Novosti project coordinator of the Altai-Sayan branch of WWF Russian Mikhail Paltsyn.

He said that to save the snow leopard and argali environmentalists are developing a joint Mongolian-Russian cross-border tourist route "The Land of Snow Leopard", which is created on the basis of settlement of local residents, and is tied to the places that are interesting to observe the animals. This is a joint project of WWF, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in the Altai-Sayan ecoregion.

"We hope, when in 2013 the year of the route running, and the local people will profit from the tourists who come to see wild animals, we can create an economic mechanism for the conservation of argali and snow leopards. Indeed, people will be able to make sure that it is not just species that are protected by the state, and that can not be hunted, but also preserving them can bring real benefits through the development of eco-tourism, "- said Paltsyn.

He stressed that the route will not be a big burden on the natural habitat of rare species, and small tour groups will not scare away the animals.

"Argali and other ungulates in the habitats of snow leopards are not very shy. If these animals do not hunt, they get used to human presence. Especially large groups of tourists on this route is not expected, it will, most likely, an exclusive tour for photographers who like to shoot wildlife for berdvotcherov (birdwatchers), zoologists and wildlife enthusiasts, "- said the ecologist.

Paltsyna assessment, it will be an expensive tour, which is designed for 12 days and includes the southern part of the territory of the Republic of Altai, Tuva western territory, and the territory of Western Mongolia. The entire tour will cost about 35-40 thousand rubles per person. Money will be used as the transport costs and the services of local residents for parking, which will be held through the route.

"It will take some time to tour started bringing economic benefit, but it certainly has to earn," — said the official.

Argali (a subspecies of argali) are considered a rare species, according to scientists in the world numbering 4.5-5.5 thousand individuals, about 28% of them live in the border areas of Russia and Mongolia. 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 experts WWF, is not more than 80-100 individuals in the Altai Mountains are about 30 of these predators.

The Altai Republic is considered one of the most attractive tourist regions in Russia, from year to year the number of tourists who come here on vacation, is growing. The number of tourists to the region is growing every year and has about 1.5 million visits a year.

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