Seasonal snow leopard research completed

Seasonal snow leopard research completed

24 March 2022

The winter and spring study of the snow leopard population has finished in the Sayano-Shushensky Biosphere Reserve. Reserve staff and representatives of the Khakassia branch of the Russian Geographical Society conducted two expeditions to carry out trail camera maintenance, animal tracking and camera placement adjustments.


“Earlier this year, snow leopard cubs, a male and a female born in 2020 to a female leopard brought from Tajikistan, separated from their mother and entered adulthood, as indicated by trail cameras images that show the young snow leopards on their own,” said Roman Afanasyev, senior research fellow and head of the research department.


In February and March, the snow leopards enter the rutting period, usually characterised by fewer movements around the reserve and active marking. The trail cameras recorded three males in the vicinity of the adult female. One of them is allegedly the father of the cubs born in 2020, while the two others were first spotted in the Sayano-Shushensky Biosphere Reserve last year, one in autumn and the other one in winter.


After the first sighting, the scientists classified the new snow leopards as transients. However, trail cameras continued to capture images of the male leopards for several months, providing data for their profiles and population distribution patterns.


“One of the males’ area spills over into the nature reserve, and the rest is located in the Republic of Tuva. This snow leopard was first spotted last autumn, and now we can confidently say that it was him that the state rangers later filmed from the ranger’s station. The second male was first recorded in the nature reserve in December 2021, and in January 2022, he was also caught on camera,” Roman Afanasyev explained.


Currently, there are six snow leopards spotted in the Sayano-Shushensky Biosphere Reserve on a regular basis, including two maturing cubs born in 2020, a female leopard brought from Tajikistan and three adult males: one also relocated from Tajikistan and two new animals that crossed over from other regions.

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