Survival of snow leopards – Mongolia

Survival of snow leopards endangered: expert 2011-10-17 23:50:51

ULAN BATOR, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) — Poaching, mining and invasion of herders are threatening the survival of the snow leopard, one of the world’s most endangered animals, an official of the World Wildlife Fund in Mongolia warned Monday.

“Big threats for the snow leopard are poaching and conflicts with local people because of attacks on livestock of herders by snow leopards in the last few years as herders moved to mountain areas in the winter season and occupied the habitat of snow leopards,” said Onon Yo.

Illegal trade of skins and skulls of snow leopards and a new trend of mining operations in the snow leopard’s habitat also pose big threats to the big cats.

Onon issued the warning on the sidelines of an international conference on snow leopard conservation here.

Snow leopards are restricted to the high mountains of Central Asia with a population of fewer than 2,500.

Many measures have been taken to protect this extremely endangered animal. About 27.5 percent of snow leopards’ potential habitats are put in protection areas and many monitoring programs had been launched in certain habitats, said Onon.

The researchers use many different methodologies, for example, GPS collars for determining the movement and migration of snow leopards, Onon said.

Using Technology to Stop Poachers: The Altai Project

August 5, 2011 |
In July 2011, TAP collaborators James Gibbs (SUNY-ESF) and Arkhar NGO led a pair of electronics hobbyists into remote Altai to install first generation electronic poacher detectors. They successfully installed 6 such detectors, and we are already getting reports that they are working nicely, with a few minor glitches in satellite coverage. Read on below to hear the story first hand from Greg and Sean.
Frequently Asked Questions
What did we build?
• Essentially, we have built poacher detection systems within the most common hunting grounds. When a poacher drives a vehicle or lights a fire in one of these areas, a signal is silently sent to enforcement officers by email.
• The devices are solar powered and intended to lay in wait, hidden, 24 hrs per day, 365 days per year.
What impact could the devices have?
• Consider this: In the Altaisky biosphere reserve about 30 rangers patrol the 3,532,234 hectare region. Random patrols could only monitor a tiny fraction of this.
• According to Dr. Gibbs, whose main research focus is in wildlife conservation, this technology could change how parks monitoring poaching. Instead of random patrols, enforcement officers could change their focus to sting operations. The increase in efficiency (and morale) could be very substantial.
• This point was echoed by Russian park enforcement officers. When asked what they may do when the traps are triggered, they said they could fly in with helicopters to make an arrest. Right now, helicopters are not warranted for such low probability of arrests.
• Safer for the rangers. There is a strategic benefit to knowing that poachers are quite possibly in a specific region. Random patrols never have this certainty – meetings are often a surprise to both sides. Rangers have been killed recently in Siberia, not far from where we have been working. Nobody knows who killed them but it was likely poachers and smugglers.
Was it successful?
• Yes, the concept has been proven to work. All six units we installed are up and running and sending ”check in” messages. They were even tripped successfully a week later on a blind test. In addition, we established a strong working collaboration with the Russian nature reserve rangers that will allow us to further develop and enhance the poacher detection systems.
Why Siberia?
• It is a long way to travel to implement prototypes, but we did want to test them under the harshest conditions.
• Altai has some of the most endangered species that are at risk of poachers. Poaching is a serious problem in the region and stopping it now while there are still animals left is key.
• Dr. Gibbs and The Altai Project both have long-term collegial relationships with people in the region.
Why amateur electronics?
• Wildlife biology and amateur electronics are, oddly enough, a natural fit. Custom electronics is very expensive to develop, yet wildlife conservation is typically stretched for funding.
• Dr. Gibbs contacted us in the hopes that we could alter one of our hobby projects to fit his needs. We were interested and thought the cause was good so took on the work on a shoestring budget. Perhaps because amateur electronics enthusiasts have to work on small budgets we were pre-adapted to making a contribution to saving endangered wildlife where the budgets are also surprisingly modest.
The Story
A few years ago, a few Victoria friends got together and started a small club to work on electronics projects. They meet every Thursday night and call themselves “Geeknight”. At Geeknight there’s a lot of rivalry. Greg and Sean started building and racing GPS guided boats on Victoria’s Elk Lake. Sean’s ultimately crashed into a rock wall at about 30 KM/H, Greg’s worked properly. That’s about par for the course. After racing GPS boats, Greg and Sean had an idea to send a small solar powered, autonomous boat out into the Pacific Ocean ( It is a big project and we ended up getting deeper into GPS, solar power and efficient design than we ever thought.
We blogged about it and shared a lot of what we were doing on-line – both about our progress and how we were doing things. About a year into the project, somebody commented on one of our posts. It was a section on how we hacked into a device called a “SPOT GPS Messenger”. These handy devices make it possible for hikers to send an “I’m OK” or a “Help” message to people back home – virtually anywhere on Earth. We had made the SPOT device solar powered and took control over the user interface with a circuit board we designed. This was all so that we could get a GPS position on this autonomous boat long after it had been launched.
The commenter was intrigued and after a few on-line comments, said he thought what we had developed could be used in wildlife conservation. He asked if we wanted to collaborate on a project. To be honest, there are a lot of internet scams and our blog was getting spammed ten times a day, so we did the prudent thing and Googled him. It turned out he – Dr. James Gibbs – is a PhD Professor of Conservation Biology in Syracuse, New York. He is really well published and researches wildlife conservation, including the behaviour of wildlife poachers. He spends many months each year in the field in far reaching places around the world. We began to correspond with James and after a few days we had roughed out a project where James would use some of his grant funding to cover prototyping expenses and Greg, Dave and Sean would volunteer time. We knew at the time that travelling to install these electronics out in the wilderness would be part of it, if it got to that stage.
James described the problem succinctly: How do you protect wildlife in a zone that is millions of hectares with only a few conservation officers?
He described the situation as a needle-in-a-haystack. Area patrols can only cover a very small fraction of the area and then only briefly. Poachers might only enter an area once every few months. Catching poachers of endangered species is very tricky, and the odds are against the animals. Snow leopards for example: there are only about 3,000-7,000 left in the world (about 150 left in Russia) and it is estimated that 10-20% are lost each year due to poaching. The cats are resilient, so given a chance they can rebound, moving back into the area and reproducing. That’s how they have been hanging on – reproductive potential.
Dr. Gibbs’ research is about analyzing the behaviour patterns of poachers. Although the areas are vast, poachers need to go through certain pinch points such as roads or places to stay at night. His idea was to detect when humans enter a pinch point zone and then send an alert to wildlife conservation officers. After some discussion and a lot of emails we designed and built small, solar powered, concealable electronics capable of monitoring an area 24 hrs per day, 365 days per year.
There are a variety of detectable ways that humans are distinct from animals – they light fires, drive cars, operate machinery, fire rifles, have human faces. So, we have built and are building sensors that:
• detect campfires
• detect vehicles on road ways
• detect human faces in images
• detect motor and gun shot sounds
A significant challenge to monitoring these remote areas is that there are virtually no means to transmit information. However, the SPOT devices mentioned above work almost anywhere in the world. The devices use the SPOT GPS Messenger made by SPOT LLC to let conservation officers know when a sensor has been triggered and where. Depending on the situation, we may also trigger a photograph of whatever triggers the sensor. The really innovative aspect of this technology is that it is real time. Conservation officers will receive an email only a few minutes after the devices are triggered. If all goes well, they could intercept the poachers before they do damage.
James brought Jennifer Castner into the project to help with logistics. Jennifer is the director of The Altai Project ( – a project of Earth Island Institute), located near San Francisco and specializes in grassroots environmental conservation in Siberia. She is skilled in logistics and speaks fluent Russian. Through the two of them, they were able to raise grant funding through the Weeden Foundation and Trust for Mutual Understanding for further prototypes and travel. On July 6th, Sean and Greg travelled to Russia to meet with James, Sergey Spitsyn, a Russian wildlife biologist and director of Arkhar NGO, and two Russian rangers – Pavel Aronov and Sergey Abramov. Together they spent 11 days in very remote areas of the Altai Republic in South-central Siberia. At the direction of the Russian wildlife biologist, they installed six units. All are functioning. Some actually have already been tripped. We learned later these were tripped by a known expedition. But at least we know they work!
A Rough but Rewarding Trip
Although the trip was ultimately successful, it was not without challenges. Sean’s backpack didn’t arrive in Moscow – it was misrouted and delayed in Vancouver. That was pivotal to the trip. At the urging of the Russian hosts, we did not wait two days for the bag to catch up to us because we were pressed for time already. The pack had some really useful things in it – spare parts, solar regulators, and Sean’s sleeping bag and mat.
Some of the devices were damaged in the travel – 16000 km of flight travel and 700 km of road and off-road travel each way. Luckily we had spare parts and were able to deploy all six that the rangers wanted. As a result, Sean and Greg had to improvise on some of the installations by using parts we scavenged from other components. It’s difficult to do in a tent in the middle of nowhere. But, in the end, all the sensors we installed are up and running, still sending us check-in messages.
The Region
The new technology was deployed in the Altai Republic in Siberia. The region is home to many endangered species including snow leopards, Argali big horn sheep and musk deer, species depleted almost everywhere by overhunting and poaching. The region is high in the mountains, up to 4500 meters above sea level (approx 10,000 feet) with temperature ranges of -50ºC to +30ºC. Common in the region are hawks, ground squirrels, cranes and giant 40 pound marmots. We saw a glimpse of a wolverine and signs of argali.
Next Steps
We returned to Canada more enthusiastic than ever. During the travels, James, Greg and Sean discussed ways of improving what we’ve got and expanding the capabilities. We already have funding to develop new sensors and travel to South America in about 6 months. There, we’ll be doing field trials on a completely different kind of sensors – detecting human faces, motor sounds and using “break beam” traps. Our collaborations with James and Jennifer and the Russian wildlife biologists are hopefully just beginning. We will be pursing additional grant funding to expand the number of devices into a full network in Altai. We hope to mature the technology by developing and marketing a “plug-and-play” version that is easier to install in the field.

Supreme Court in Russia’s Altai overrules acquittal of VIP poachers

GORNO-ALTAISK, August 11 (RIA Novosti)

he Altai Republic’s Supreme Court has overruled the acquittal of poachers, two of them high-ranking officials, convicted of hunting endangered mountain sheep, and ordered a retrial with a new panel of judges.

A helicopter carrying government officials crashed near Chernaya Mountain in Altai in January 2009, killing seven people, including the Russian president’s envoy to the State Duma, Alexander Kosopkin, and an environmental off icial.

The officials were allegedly on an illegal hunting expedition when the helicopter crashed. Three of the four people who survived the crash – the republic’s deputy prime minister Anatoly Bannykh, deputy chief of a Moscow university, Nikolai Kapranov, and State Duma official and businessman Boris Belinsky – were brought to trial.

The investigation into the case was closed twice over the lack of evidence of the suspects’ involvement in poaching. The court eventually acquitted them, frustrating environmentalists and animals rights activists.

The Argali sheep is included on Russia’s list of protected species as well as on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) list. Hunting wild rams has been forbidden in Russia since 1930.

The case sparked public outcry after images of the helicopter’s wreckage, in which dead wild rams were clearly seen, a ppeared on the internet soon after the crash.

Ignored management issues in the Khunjerab National Park, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

Hussain Ali
PMAS-Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi/Snow Leopard Foundation

Khunjerab National Park (KNP) is situated in the extreme North of the Pakistan and lies between 36o North and 75oEast. Its area is 226,913 ha. It was established in 1975, on the recommendations of famous zoologist George Schaller, with Marco polo sheep as flag species. At that time Marco polo sheep were present in two pockets within the park, one at the zero point (being an area of permanent presence) while, the second habitat of the Marco Polo sheep was erchanaiNalla where it had seasonal presence (generally in May-October during lambing). In 1969, the government of Pakistan made an agreement with the Chinese Govt. for the construction of a road along the historical Silk Route. The construction of this road (Karakorum Highway-KKH) started in 1969 and completed in 1979.

Before the construction of the Karakoram Highway only local people especially Mirs (Kings) of Hunza were involved in hunting of Marco Polo sheep. However, the situation got worst during the late 1960s and early 1970s due to increased human interference, especially by the people who took part in the survey and the construction of the Karakoram Highway. It is reported that, they were not hunting Marco Polo sheep only for sport, but also to feed their men (Rasool, 1990). The construction of the KKH increased access of visitor to KNP, which contributed to poaching and further decline in the population of the Marco Polo Sheep. Consequently, today presence of the Marco Polo Sheep is confined to the Kerchanai Nalla only.

Nevertheless, the establishment of the park and continuous efforts of the KNP administration contributed to a drastic decline in poaching incidences in the recent past. However, current renovation and expansion work on the KKH, has introduced new challenges for the park after 40 years. As a part of ongoing research project by the Snow Leopard Foundation (SLF) in KNP, the SLF team spent a substantial time in KNP in Nov-December 2010, which allowed us to make observations on issues currently faced by the park. Though the poaching incidences are pretty controlled these days, we observed following emerging issues:

1: Disturbance due to the contraction work: Approximately 66 km of KKH falls inside the Park and hundreds of labors with heavy machinery are working inside the park, including a large residential base camp. The presence of hundreds of people along with engineering machinery and vehicles is causing disturbance to the animals, particularly when wildlife cross the roads at or comes to river for drinking water. It is reported that when wildlife comes to river sometimes labor harass them by through stones. No environmental management system was observed to be in place; neither construction workers were trained on how to work in a sensitive environment.

2: Lack of Waste Management System: The residential camps of the construction company lack a proper waste management system as a result there is dumps of garbage near the camps and along the road. This attitude is totally inimical to the national park.

Figure 1: Garbage dumping along the Chinese Camps at KNP.

3: Hunting of Wildlife for Food: As the Chinese workers eat all kinds of animals so every available animal in the park present an attractive food for them, which is a likely threat to the wildlife if an environmental management system is not in place. We did not observe any signs of hunting by gun or explosives except. We however located traps which were set for capturing golden marmot.

Figure 2: Trap set to catch the Golden Marmot.

4: Lack of Traffic Management System: Cargo containers and the passenger buses moves through the park, and the Karakoram Highway remains busy from May to December. It is reported by game watchers that vehicle drivers blow horns or chase animals seen along the road. This element might be contributing to continuous stress on the animals, and avoidance of elusive species.

Figure 4: The copper wire that forms knots.

5: Left Over Wires: Few years back there was an active telecommunication line which was being used as a source of communication between Pakistan and China. This line is neither functional anymore nor maintained. Consequently, it has fallen on the ground and remains unattended. These wires have made knots in which the animals may get trapped.

Suggested Management Measures:
1. The road construction company should develop an environmental management system, if it did not exist before, addressing issues of waste management, traffic management, and precautions about working in sensitive environments, following EPA guidelines. This environmental management system should be strictly implemented and monitored by the GB Forest and Wildlife Department and other stakeholders.
2. The KNP directorate should implement a system of waste management and tourism management in the park.
3. All left over wires, equipment and nonfunctional infrastructure need to be removed.

Literature cited:
Rasool, G. 1990.The Status of Wildlife in Khunjerab National Park Northern Areas, Pakistan. Tiger Paper., p. 25-28.

Initial hearings take place in the argali hunting case (Altai Republic)

13 Jan 2011

The rare species argali hunting case will begin on January 26. This decision was taken at a hearing held on 13 January presided over by Nikolai Lubenitsky, chairman of the Kosh-Agach Rayon court, which is hearing this case.

The subject of these preliminary hearings (generally used for hearing processual questions, evidentiary issues, etc.) is not known. All of the accused traveled to Kosh-Agach to participate in these hearings – businessman and former vice-governor of Altai Republic Anatoly Bannykh, general director of Ineko Boris Belinsky, and vice director of the Moscow’s Institute of Economics and Law Nikolai Karpanov.

They stand accused under Part 2, Article 258 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code (collusion to illegally hunt by a group for animals whose killing is completely forbidden, with the infliction of gross harm and the use of airborne transport), the penalty for which ranges from a fine up to two years’ imprisonment. The accused in the case are pleading not guilty to the charges.


Translation by Jennifer Castner

Snow leopard sighting/poaching increase in Kazakhstan 2010

In Russian-language newspapers, there were accounts of a snow leopard sighting in the Dzhungarian Alatau area of Kazakhstan earlier this year. It was reported in an October 26 2010 article by reporter Aliya Akhmedieva at for Radio “Azattyk” and also in Guns.Kz- a website for gun clubs in Kazakhstan. The person who saw and photographed the snow leopard was Renat Minibaev and it was Jan. 11 2010. He took several impressive photos of the cat. Both articles expressed concern that poaching was increasing in the area.

Here is a paragraph in Russian with the account from Minibaev and the link to the ecological page with a photo: .

№ 196 (17068) от 22.10.2010
Лариса ШТОППЕЛЬ, Алматинская область
Одна случайная встреча с редким животным сделала текелийца Рената Минибаева знаменитым на весь мир. Уникальные фото снежного барса он выложил в Интернет, и его тут же приняли во Всемирный фонд дикой природы, а потом и в казахстанский фонд Snow Leopard Fund, созданный год назад ученым-биологом Олегом Логиновым.
Ренат Минибаев приехал в январе этого года на юбилей Георгия Михайловича Чупринова. Этот старичок-боровичок много лет живет на пасеке в Коринском ущелье, напрочь позабыв про цивилизацию.
– Мы с собакой Дружком решили прогуляться. С собой я взял только фотоаппарат и на всякий случай петарду, – говорит Ренат. – Вдруг справа от меня легла тень. Рядом стоит шикарный зверюга с огромным пушистым хвостом. Пес залаял, а барс тихо зарычал, оскалившись. Я испугался, конечно, и зажег петарду. Когда понял, что зверя я не интересую, то вспомнил про фотоаппарат. Начал снимать. Ирбис лег под елкой на солнышке, развалившись, как домашний кот. Несколько кадров отлично получились, остальные – мимо. Когда стали возвращаться на пасеку, увидели его следы. Он шел за нами почти от самой речки!

P.S. Численность ирбиса в Казахстане в среднем составляет около ста особей.

Another page that has Minibaev’s photos of the wild snow leopard is: The link at the end of this paragraph in Russian is to another article that claims there are about 100 snow leopards left in Kazakhstan.

Ренат Минибаев приехал в январе этого года на юбилей Георгия Михайловича Чупринова. Этот старичок-боровичок много лет живет на пасеке в Коринском ущелье, напрочь позабыв про цивилизацию. – Мы с собакой Дружком решили прогуляться. С собой я взял только фотоаппарат и на всякий случай петарду, – говорит Ренат. – Вдруг справа от меня легла тень. Рядом стоит шикарный зверюга с огромным пушистым хвостом. Пес залаял, а барс тихо зарычал, оскалившись. Я испугался, конечно, и зажег петарду. Когда понял, что зверя я не интересую, то вспомнил про фотоаппарат. Начал снимать. Ирбис лег под елкой на солнышке, развалившись, как домашний кот. Несколько кадров отлично получились, остальные – мимо. Когда стали возвращаться на пасеку, увидели его следы. Он шел за нами почти от самой речки!

P.S. Численность ирбиса в Казахстане в среднем составляет около ста особей.

Snow leopard skin seized in Palmar of Jammu, India, western Himalaya

Based on villagers’ information on the smuggling of parts of wild animals by a group of smugglers, the police launched a manhunt in Palmar of Jammu, western Himalaya and confiscated a snow leopard from the arrested person.

6 November 2011

Need for stricter regime in Pakistan (editorial)

Dawn Editorial
Monday, 08 Nov, 2010

THE federal environment ministry has informed parliament that a number of indigenous fauna — the snow leopard, markhor, the Balochistan bear, houbara bustard and the Indus river dolphin among them — are listed as endangered species by international conservation bodies.

The briefing came ostensibly with a view to emphasising the need to put in place additional conservation mechanisms and stricter vigilance and punitive measures to curb illegal hunting. Disturbingly enough, another report brought to light the gross violation of the ban imposed on hunting in Chitral district by none other than the president of a local village conservation committee.

The police reportedly recovered a number of markhor hides from the house of the violator before booking him.

Poaching is a multimillion-dollar illegal trade that goes on unabated in much of the developing world, with Africa, Asia and South America being the main originating points.

Pakistan can learn a lesson from the strict conservation regime that India has implemented to curb illegal hunting and to save the environment.

Vigilant Indian authorities have not spared even the most popular of film celebrities in recent years when it has come to enforcing environmental and wildlife laws. A Bollywood superstar was restrained from cutting down a tree located within the walls of his house; another superstar was fined and imprisoned for shooting a deer.

In Pakistan, one has yet to hear of any such meaningful enforcement of the law where it does exist. Our municipal authorities routinely fell trees in the cities and execute development projects without the required environment impact assessment; in the countryside much of the hunting of endangered species is done by those who wield power and influence.

Implementation of a stricter vigilance and punitive regime is long overdue. It is needed urgently if we are to conserve a wide variety of indigenous flora and fauna.

Field studies evaluating argali populations took place in Russia

28 July 2010

Field studies evaluating argali populations took place

Between July 16 and 23rd, field work to assess transboundary argali
populations took place as part of a program to study this rare and
large subspecies of the arkhar sheep. The early results of the survey
are now available. There are approximately 700 individuals in Russia.
The total transboundary population will be publicized when data is
received from Mongolian colleagues.

… This field work was made possible with the financial and
informational support of the UNDP/GEF “Preserving Biodiversity in the
Altai-Sayan Ecoregion.”

During this field work, all modern argali habitats in the Russian
Federation were studied: Tsagan-Shibetu Ridge, Mongun-Taiga Massif
(Republic of Tuva), Chikhachev Ridge (Altai Republic, Republic of
Tuva), Sailyugem Ridge and Ukok Plateau (Altai Republic). Mongolian
specialists conducted synchronous counts on the other side of the
border. On the Tsagan-Shibetu Ridge and the Mongun-Taiga Massif no
argali were found during the summer of 2010. 240-250 individuals were
counted on Chikhachoev and Talduair, and 440-450 on the Sailyugem Ridge.

While argali are concentrated in several relatively isolated groupings
on the Chikhachev Ridge (Builyukem-Mount Chernaya-Bogoyash 11%, Bert-
Adyr-KochkorLu-Akkayaluozek 27%, Tekelyu 11%, Talduair 12%, BarBurgazy-
KaraOyuk-NarynGol-ChaganGol 16%, Oristy-Boguty 23%) on Sailyugem
Ridge, the majority of sheep (93%) keep to one large pocket – Kara-Su
– Bayan-Chagan – Sarzhematy – Kalanegir – Kuruk.

During the 2009-2010 winter, mountainous ungulates and livestock
experienced severe conditions. There was great loss of livestock on
both sides of the border. Despite this, wild ungulates fared better.
During field studies, the bodies of 14 argali were notes, including 7
deaths caused by poachers, but there was not indication of a large die-
off. This does not exceed the number of dead argali found in an
average year during such expeditions. However, all observers did note
a reduced percentage of lambs in the groups, relative to easier years.
Apparently the difficult winter had an impact on the viability of

Poaching incidents were noted in the Ak-Adyr area (Republic of Tuva)
and Bayan-Chagan (Altai Republic). Poaching activities in Ak-Adyr have
become traditional (noted during each expedition). This winter, 3
argali (one male and two females) were killed right on the border, and
another two males seem to have been injured. They died there and were
eaten by foxes and carrion-eating birds. In the location from which
the shots were likely fired – cliff near the border – fresh
cartridges from a 223 Remington were found. These cartridges were
collected with the goal of establishing the rifle’s ownership with a
query to the federal bullet and shell casing registry. It should also
be noted that there are new signs of a serious anthropogenic impact on
the argali population – industrial mining of tungsten deposits, using
open pits, in argali habitat on the Chikhachev Ridge (Karakulskoye
deposit). Fragile high-elevation ecosystems and argali habitat can be
destroyed when prospecting pits and pit mines are strip mined, as well
as the impacts of road-building. In addition, argali are also
disturbed by sounds coming from such operations and by vehicles, as
well as the presence of a large number of people. Currently, mining
operations have stopped for economic reasons, and there are currently
only two guards on site. Future continuation of mining here will lead
to the isolation of arkhar in the northern part of the Chikhachev
Ridge, will all the resulting impacts, as the commercial pit mine and
deposit are located along the argali’s seasonal migration route.

Translation thanks to Jennifer Castner.

28.07.2010 В рамках проекта прошли полевые работы по оценке численности трансграничных группировок аргали

В период с 16 июня по 23 июля 2010 г. на территории России и Монголии проводились полевые работы по оценке численности трансграничных группировок аргали в соответствии с программой мониторинга этого самого редкого и крупного подвида архаров. Сейчас подведены предварительные итоги учета. На территории России учтено около 700 особей. Общая численность трансграничных группировок станет известна, когда будут получены учетные сведения от монгольских коллег.

С российской стороны в работе приняли участие сотрудники двух соседних заповедников: Спицын С.В. – руководитель работ (Алтайский заповедник, Республика Алтай), Донгак С.Б., Куулар С.М., Бегзи С.Ф.(заповедник Убсунурская котловина, Республика Тыва). Полевые работы проводились при финансовой и информационной поддержке Проекта ПРООН/ГЭФ «Сохранение биоразнообразия Алтае-Саянского экорегиона».

В ходе полевых работ были обследованы все современные места обитания аргали в российской федерации: хребет Цаган-Шибету, массив Монгун-Тайга (Республика Тыва), хребет Чихачева (Республика Тыва, Республика Алтай), хребет Сайлюгем и плато Укок (Республика Алтай). Монгольские специалисты проводили синхронные учеты по другую сторону границы. На хребте Цаган-Шибету и массиве Монгун-Тайга летом 2010 г. аргали не обнаружены. На хребте Чихачева и Талдуаире учтено 240 – 250 особей, на хребте Сайлюгем – 440 – 450. Если аргали на хребте Чихачева концентрируются в нескольких относительно обособленных очагах (Буйлюкем – г. Черная – Богояш (11%); Берт-Адыр – Кочкор-Лу – Аккаялуозек (27%); Текелю (11%); Талдуаир (12%); Бар-Бургазы – Кара-Оюк – Нарын-Гол – Чаган-Гол (16%); Ористы – Богуты (23%)), то на хребте Сайлюгем большая часть баранов местной группировки (93 %) держится в одном крупном очаге обитания – Кара-Су – Баян-Чаган – Саржематы – Каланегир – Курук.

Зима 2009 – 2010 г подвергла суровому испытанию горных копытных и домашний скот. По обе стороны границы отмечен большой падеж скота. Однако дикие копытные лучше справились с зимовкой. В ходе полевого обследования территории установлена гибель 14 аргали, из них 7 от рук браконьеров, а массовых случаев гибели не выявлено. Это не превышает число находок останков аргали в обычные годы при такого рода экспедициях. Однако при учетах наблюдателями все же отмечался меньший процент ягнят в группах, чем в более благоприятные годы. Видимо трудности зимовки отразились на жизнестойкости потомства.

Случаи браконьерства зафиксированы в урочище Ак-Адыр (Республика Тыва) и Баян-Чаган (Республика Алтай). В урочище Ак-Адыр браконьерские охоты на аргали уже стали традиционными (отмечаются каждую экспедицию). В эту зиму здесь прямо на границе добыли 3 аргали (1 самца и 2 самок), еще двух самцов, видимо ранили. Они погибли здесь же, и были съедены лисами и пернатыми падальщиками. На месте предполагаемой засады стрелка, на скале прямо рядом с границей найдены свежие стреляные гильзы калибра 223 Remington. Гильзы изъяты с целью установления владельца оружия через запрос в федеральную пулегильзотеку. Необходимо также отметить серьезный фактор антропогенного воздействия на популяцию аргали, которого не было многие годы – промышленная разработка месторождений металлов (вольфрам) открытым способом в местообитаниях аргали на хребте Чихачева (Каракульское месторождение). Хрупкие высокогорные экосистемы подвергаются разрушению – производится вскрыша шурфов и карьеров, прокладка дорог – тем самым уничтожается среда обитания архаров. Среди прочего – шум механизмов и машин, присутствие большого количества людей. В настоящее время работы приостановлены по экономическим причинам, и на руднике находятся только 2 сторожа. Дальнейшее продолжение добычи приведет к изоляции архаров в северной части хребта Чихачева со всеми вытекающими последствиями, так как промышленный карьер и рудник находятся как раз на пути сезонных перекочевок аргали.

Asian Officials Extend Lifeline For Wild Tigers (mentions use of snow leopard skins towards the end of the article)

Katie Hamann | Denpasar, Bali 14 July 2010: VOA News

Countries Work on Agreement to Save Tigers

Wild tigers have been offered a lifeline by countries where they still roam. The countries have agreed to work together to double the tiger population within 12 years. Officials from 13 countries gathered in Bali agreed to increase law enforcement to protect the tigers and preserve their habitats across Asia.

A Sumatran tiger roars in protest at his captors from the Indonesian forestry department. The animal had rampaged through villages and palm oil plantations in search of food, killing four farmers. After months in captivity, the cat was released into a Sumatran national park.

In an ongoing battle for territory between humans and wild tigers, tigers are the biggest losers. Rapidly shrinking habitats and poaching are decimating their populations.

The World Wildlife Fund estimates the number of wild tigers has declined by 40 percent in the past decade, to about 3,200 animals with only 1,000 actively breeding females.

In an effort to arrest this slide into extinction, leaders from 13 tiger nations gathered this week in Bali to draft a declaration on conservation, as part of the Global Tiger Recovery Program. The program is led by the World Bank and a coalition of international non-profit organizations. The centerpiece of the nations’ commitment is an ambitious plan to double the number of wild tigers by 2022.

Underscoring the immensity of this challenge, several countries said the goal is unrealistic.

Indian delegation leader S. P. Yadav says his country will focus on stabilizing tiger numbers in existing conservation areas.

“We are the largest, tiger-range country,” said S. P. Yadav. “We have around 1,500 tigers in the wild; so almost 50 percent of tigers are in India. We have identified 39 tiger reserves, covering an area of around 32,000 square kilometers. Within this number of tigers and the area, we are facing the problem of tiger-man conflict, and in some areas, it is a very serious issue. So there is very little scope in further enhancing the area to accommodate more tigers in our country.”

The Wildlife Conservation Societies’ vice president for conservation and science, John Robinson, says is it possible to double the number of tigers as planned.

“Within protected areas we could increase overall tiger numbers probably by 50 to 60 percent, and the tigers within those protected areas would still not reach the carrying capacity of that habitat,” said John Robinson. “And that gives an ability to bring these numbers back rather dramatically. Across broader tiger landscapes, if protection was put into place, if we could control the illegal hunting, we could bring back very significant tiger numbers”

Conservationists agree poaching presents the greatest threat to tiger populations. Poaching and the international trade in tigers and tiger parts is increasing across the region.

John Sellers heads the enforcement office of the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES.

“I think if you had looked at this area 10 to 15 years ago, you would have found that a lot of the demand was taking place amongst Asian ethnic communities in either North America and Europe,” said John Sellers. “That really has disappeared now. Instead, I think the market is now amongst the wealthy in parts of Asia, particularly China, where they have the money to pay for the genuine article. There are undoubtedly practitioners with the contacts to acquire this. I remember speaking to a practitioner in Thailand a few years ago who told me he had traveled to the border with Myanmar in order to purchase genuine tiger bones.”

The sale of tiger parts is prohibited in most tiger countries and the penalty for poachers in China is death. But law enforcement within countries and across national boundaries remains weak and disorganized.

In recent years new markets for tiger products have emerged. Some animal parks in China openly sell tiger bone wine, just one product spurring the establishment of tiger-breeding farms.

John Sellers says in some parts of China and Tibet a revival of old traditions is driving the market for tiger pelts.

“From what I understand in Tibet, it was traditional for warriors who had been brave in battle to be presented with a small piece of animal skin, such as a tiger or leopard – a snow leopard – just as the way a soldier would be in the West might be presented with a medal,” he said. “And so what had been a traditional practice using small parts of skin, then just grew into this situation where they began to build huge panels of tiger and leopard skin into these chubas, the traditional jackets that the local communities wear there.”

Early estimates suggest the cost of implementing the global tiger project will be more than $350 million, and more if the target of doubling tiger numbers within 12 years is to be met.

World Bank Global Tiger Initiative Director, Keshav Varma, says tiger nations have some capacity for funding tiger conservation, but wealthy nations will have to contribute.

“This sector is extremely poorly resourced,” said Keshav Varma. “It does not have money for minimum sustainable management. So we need more resources. And I think this is again an opportunity for global leaders to really understand the value of ecosystems.”

Included in the draft declaration was a commitment from tiger countries to collaborate and coordinate efforts to protect tigers and their habitats across national boundaries and to improve enforcement of anti-poaching and trafficking laws.

The Bali meeting’s draft declaration will be presented to government leaders for ratification at a September summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.