Directors of nature reserves present the project Wild Cats of Southern Siberia in Moscow

Directors of nature reserves present the project Wild Cats of Southern Siberia in Moscow

2 February 2013

The Day of the Russian Geographical Society (RGS) was held during the Golden Turtle Wildlife Festival on February 2 by four regional branches of the RGS representing the central and southern regions of European Russia, as well as eastern and southern Siberia. Visitors were able to attend the presentation of the Wild Cats of Southern Siberia project, which was launched in the Khakassian, Sayano-Shushensky and Pozarym nature reserves in 2012.


The presentation was attended Viktor Nepomnyashchy, director of the Khakassian Nature Reserve, Gennady Kiselyov, head of the Sayano-Shushensky Nature Reserve and Irina Sannikova, head of the Khakassian branch of the RGS. “The Wild Cats of Southern Siberia project is based on the Tracking the Snow Leopard project,” Viktor Nepomnyashchy said. “It took some time for one project to smoothly develop into the other project, because it soon became clear that there are three types of wild cats living in the unique areas which we are studying,” said Gennady Kiselyov. “They are the snow leopard, the lynx and the manul. All three are extremely valuable for us, as they are rare and endangered species.”


The nature preserves’ directors spoke about the unique group of snow leopards living in Russia, as well as the studies of threats to their lives, such as poaching, forest fires and a deteriorating food supply. In addition to preserving and ensuring the reproduction of this unique animal, the scientists involved in the project are trying to determine where young animals go from the nature reserves. It is a fact that they leave the reserve to settle in their own territory, but it has so far been impossible to determine exactly where they migrate. GPS tracking collars, which are to be put on two young cats this year, should help solve this mystery.


Visitors will also be able to attend the presentation of the book, The Snow Leopard: Tracking the Mysterious Animal, which includes unique photographs of snow leopards taken by trail cameras in southern Siberia, and detailed background information about the Tracking the Snow Leopard and Wild Cats of Southern Siberia projects. The first copies of the book have been forwarded to President Vladimir Putin, who chairs the RGS Board of Trustees, and RGS President Sergei Shoigu. During the presentation of the book, a copy was given to Andrei Poyarkov, a researcher at the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, who is studying the snow leopard in southern Siberia.


Project participants and RGS representatives noted the importance of environmental education programmes, which offer a great deal of information about the life and habits of Russia’s unique animals. This is why a quiz was held as part of the exhibition about wild cats, the winners of which received gifts with the logos of the Siberian nature reserves and a book about the snow leopard.