Summer expedition to snow leopard habitats concludes

Summer expedition to snow leopard habitats concludes

30 June 2015

A summer field research expedition has wrapped up. The research team comprised scientists and inspectors from the Sayano-Shushensky Nature Reserve. For two weeks from late May through mid-June, they explored the southern part of Sayano-Shushensky, bordering on the Republic of Tyva, to collect data about a group of snow leopards who have been living there continuously under the supervision of scientists since 2008.


The aim of the expedition was to assess the status of the local snow leopard population and the populations of its prey, as well as the factors inhibiting population growth in the area.


“The data collected during the field research is yet to be processed and summed up. Nevertheless, it already looks like the composition of the snow leopard population in the Sayano-Shushensky Nature Reserve is unchanged –  two males, Mongol and Ikhtiandr, and a female with cubs,” Viktor Lukarevksy, the expedition leader, said. “Earlier, only Ikhtiandr frequented both the left and right banks of the water reservoir, while Mongol preferred living exclusively on its west bank, which is part of the reserve. But before the ice broke up on the Yenisey, Mongol had also been regularly spotted by trail cameras in the protected zone. The female with the cubs moved deeper into the protected territory and rarely appears on the bank”.


There is enough prey for snow leopards in Sayano-Shushensky. Thanks to wildlife protection measures, the Siberian mountain goat (the main item on the snow leopard’s menu) is fairly widespread there. There are around 2,000 mountain goats per 6-8 snow leopards in the habitat. The mountains behind the reserve’s southern border are a better home for snow leopards in terms of the landform, however, they do not live there because prey is scarce, scientists say.


The snow leopard data collected during the latest summer expedition will make it possible to devise a set of measures to increase the protection of areas adjacent to the reserve, especially the Khan-Deer cluster in Ubsunurskaya Kotlovina State Biosphere Reserve and its protected zone, and in the protected zone of Sayano-Shushensky.