WWF Altai-Sayan Newsletter issue #12: April – June, 2010

WWF Russia and WWF Mongolia share the main achievements of both offices in Altai – Sayan Ecoregion regarding species conservation, protected areas, ecotourism, public awareness, education, eco clubs, fresh water. Several articles reference snow leopards:

WWF Mongolia
Argali population observation in transboundary area

WWF Mongolia has been doing observation of argali sheep movement in the transboundary area between Mongolia and Russia for the last 6 years through radio-collar on new-born lambs. This year 10 more lambs were collared. The total number of collared lambs in Uvs province reached\s up to 43 individuals. This year WWF Mongolia expanded the observation area to Siilkhem mountain range which is located in Bayan-Ulgii province. The process involved the local people, rangers and state border officers who are expected to carry out the further observations.

WWF Russia
Ecotourism camps in the habitats of a snow leopard and argali WWF and UNDP

Project started a joined program devoted to development of transboundary ecotourism route in snow leopard and Altai argali habitats in Altai, Tuva and Western Mongolia. The project is based on local communities living in the habitats of endangered species. Thus, in May-June two eco-camps for tourists were organized in Altai on the base of the communities of telengits – the indigenous people of Sailyugem Ridge. Three traditional telengit yurts, a sauna, a guest house and the solar panels were established in the eco – camps in collaboration with Ere – Chui, the Association of Telengit Communities. Poaching – is one of the major threat for argali and snow leopard in Sailyugem, where Sailugem National Park was established recently. A chance to watch a snow leopard and its prey in the wild is supposed to be a specific trait of the planning eco-tours. Rare species conservation will become an indispensable condition for income generation of the local people. The communities receive the equipment and constructions for tourists in exchange for argali and snow leopard conservation. In case of poaching among the participants of the ecotourism projectall equipment and constructions will be confiscated. The involvement of the local people into ecotourism activities secures the requisites for snow leopard and argali protection. Community inspection was organized in Sailugem Ridge as a part of the project. So, telengits now can take active part in anti-poaching activities in cooperation with government agencies.

WWF Russia
WWF assessed the level of conflict between herders and a snow leopard in Republic of Tyva

The understanding of local people’s attitude towards a snow leopard is crucial for conservation of this endangered species. In May 2010 special reseach was supported by WWF Russia to collect information on snow leopard attacs to livestock on Shapshal Ridge – one of the most important species shelter in Altai-Sayan. WWF experts discivered that only 127 heads of livestock were killed by a snow leopard in Shapshal Ridge area in 2001-2010 (for 10 years). So, snow leopards kill on an average 12 – 13 heads of livestock a year (to compare a wolfs kill 703 heads of livestock annually – which is 6 times more than a snow leopards kill for 10 years!).

«There are the herders’ camps where a snow leopard attacks livestock every year, – says Alexander Kuksin, Ubsunurskaya Kotlovina Nature Reserve. – The shepherds themselves relate this fact with a mating period of this wild cat when snow leopards become more active. They say once a herder saw a snow leopard killing his goat on a pasture at daytime. The tuvinian drove away a leopard’s kill however at night a snow leopard got into “koshara (a sheep shed) and killed 30 goats and sheep there”.

Local people poll opinion’s results proved that the shepherds had either neutral or negative attitude towards a rare animal. The people are perfectly aware of a punishment for killing a snow leopard however the cases of poaching are known. One shepherd tried to shoot a snow leopard two years ago but missed, a female snow leopard was shot as a revenge for killing cattle, another animal was caught in a wire loop in 2007. The case is still being investigated. WWF experts consider the measures for the conflict mitigation. The activities proposed include the active propaganda of snow leopard conservation among the local people, the promotion of a snow leopard image as a sacred symbol of Altai – Sayan, ecotourism development involving the herders, souvenirs productions (a snow leopard statuettes). The planning Shui Nature Park will provide for the conservation of a rare animal as well.

WWF Russia
The first ecological festival in the history of Mountain Altai for snow leopard conservation!

The festival called “ A Snow Leopard Day” was hold in Republic of Altai in May, 2010. This unique and very attractive way of promoting rare species conservation was used for the first time and worked very well. 78 schoolchildren of Ulagansky and Kosh – Agachsky regions of Republic of Altai – two key sites for snow leopard conservation in Mountain Altai – ecame the participants of the event. The Head of the Directorate of protected areas of Mongolian Altai Mantai Khavilkhan was the guest of the festival. The results of two contests on the best legend “Snow Leopard – the Legend of Mountains” and the best drawing or craftwork “Save a Snow Leopard” were summed up at the festival. The amazing craftworks made by schoolchildren – a snow leopard and other rare species statuettes made of ceramics, wax, dough and wheat, paper applications were exhibited during the festival. The different songs, dances, performances and even power point presentation were presented for the jury to choose the winner. The wish to help a vulnerable animal and care for its future were seen through children’s appeal to save a snow leopard. ”I was surprised how knowledgeable the children are, – marked Mikhail Paltsyn, – the projects coordinator in Altai – Sayan Ecoregion. – It is extremely important to make a base for nature conservation in the souls of the people form the very early age. Our children will make our future”.

The regional level festival is planned to be promoted up to the level of Republic. The children proposed to name 26, May the Snow Leopard Day and next year invite the children form Republic of Tyva and Mongolia.

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