Experts: Not enough food for snow leopards in Buryatia and Altai

Experts: Not enough food for snow leopards in Buryatia and Altai

28 December 2017

A news conference for republican media outlets took place following a meeting of snow leopard experts from Altai, Tyva and Buryatia where they learned about GIS technology and the Snow Leopard database.


Researchers spoke about the problems that hamper the research and conservation of snow leopards. One of them is a lack of food for the snow leopards inhabiting Buryatia and Altai. Sergei Malykh, head of the Asia-Snow Leopard working group, said that a protected area has not been established in Buryatia yet, and the Siberian ibex population has almost been hunted to extinction. This forces snow leopards to relocate to Mongolia where there are more ibexes.


Sergei Pishchulin, director of Sailyugem National Park, said that people hunt ibexes in the Republic of Altai in the areas adjacent to the protected areas inhabited by snow leopards. Hunters eliminate snow leopards’ prey, leaving no chance for the ibex population to recover. Pishchulin believes that this might force snow leopards to leave their habitats like it happened in Buryatia.


Participants in the meeting also mentioned a lack of personnel, which poses a problem for snow leopard research. Denis Malikov, deputy director for research and monitoring at the national park, said that locals are invited to team up for monitoring efforts, snow leopard counts and camera traps checks.


Experts said that as of today, there are no direct threats to the snow leopard population, but there are some indirect ones: a decrease in the ibex population and hunting with nooses. During the winter snow leopard count in Altai, Tyva and Buryatia, experts will also count the Siberian ibex population.