Expeditions to study snow leopards in Sayan Mountains to be supervised by Putin
Expeditions to study the snow leopard will start in late January in the Sayano-Shushensky and Khakassky nature reserves, as well as in the Pozarym federal wildlife preserve. Scientists are going collect pictures from camera traps, identify the species' habitat and assess their population size, according to a statement from the press office of the Sayano-Shushensky Reserve that Sib.fm's correspondent examined on 28 January.
From 31 January to 10 February, scientists will collect data from camera traps and choose new places to install them in the Sayano-Shushensky Reserve between the Maly Shugur river and the bay of the river Tepsel.
The number of snow leopards in Russia is approaching a critical level and currently amounts to only 70-150 individuals. At the same time, it is one of the least studied big cats in the world due to the inaccessibility of its habitat, the natural rarity of the species and its withdrawn behaviour.
The "Restoration of the snow leopard population in Western Sayan" project in three environmentally sensitive areas, which are inhabited by a part of the Russian snow leopard population, is under the personal supervision of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"The project is designed to support existing leopard groups, expand their habitat and provide a favourable environment for the exchange of genes within the population through migration and the resettlement of individuals," reports the statement.
To this end, a Russian Geographical Society task force will be created in 2014 to protect snow leopards in Western Sayan. In addition, a permanent research station has been procured on territory occupied by snow leopards in the Pozarnym wildlife preserve.