Snares threaten snow leopard population

Snares threaten snow leopard population

20 September 2012

Snaring wild animals should be banned in Russia because it can affect rare animal species such as the lynx and the snow leopard, says Sergei Istomov, deputy head of scientific research at the Sayano-Shushensky nature reserve.


"In South Siberia, the lynx has been badly affected; its population is dangerously low as it has fallen victim to legal musk deer snaring," he said. "Lynxes, who feed on musk deer, come to the deer's territories for hunting. All these areas are covered with snares. Staff hunters of local state-run hunting companies say they haven't seen a lynx in a decade or so."


Snow leopards, listed in Russia's Red Book of Rare and Endangered Species, may also be affected as they pass through hunting areas during migration, Istomov said. He called for amendments to ungulate hunting regulations, explaining that ungulates are the snow leopard's staple food.


This past spring, the skeleton of a snow leopard, presumably strangled by a poacher's snare, was found in the Irkutsk Region. Experts believe the leopard got caught in one of the snares set up by local inhabitants for wolf hunting.


Improving the regulations on ungulate hunting and snaring is among the main objectives of the South Siberia Wild Cats project, currently running in the Sayano-Shushensky reserve, the Khakassky reserve, and in the Pozarym sanctuary. This project is aimed at surveying and preserving three wild feline species – the snow leopard, the lynx, and the manul.