Altai snowcock first caught in the frame

06:35 AM

Altai snowcock

The next expedition to the territory of the snow leopard went on February 4th, this year. In April 15th, 2011, the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Russian Geographical Society, Vladimir Putin, awarded a grant to the Khakassky Reserve to implement the Following Snow Leopard Footprints project main tasks of which are organization of missions to assess the population status of snow leopard and organization and development of Federal Protected Area—Pozarym Wildlife Refuge in the territory of South Siberia to preserve rare and endangered animal species, such as snow leopard.

Western Sayan mountains

The participants of the expedition are representatives of the Khakassky Reserve and specially invited specialists. The state inspectors of the reserve not only accompany the group on the route, providing a safe and comfortable travel, but also participate in the monitoring of animals, learn and fix their tracks. One of the important tasks of the expedition is to check previously installed camera traps. A camera trap is a camera equipped with motion sensors. It has powerful batteries that allow it to operate for several months, equipped with an infrared flash and can take pictures at night. Usually camera traps are set in the places of concentration of animals, or on their main paths. The previous expedition to the Pozarym Refuge allowed to set several devices in areas likely inhabited by snow leopards.

“It is thanks to the previously set  camera traps we could capture a rare bird—snowcock, that is in the Red Data Book of Russia, and living in the reserve,” said the head of the Khakassky Reserve Victor Nepomnyashiy.

Siberian ibex

Altai snowcock – a rare, poorly studied species of the pheasant family. The range of heights, the home of the Altai snow cock, is quite significant – from 2000-2500 m, to small elevations of 800-900 meters above sea level. The favorite habitat—steep slopes, areas where the rubble, kurums (large rocky screes), and the low-grass meadows, alpine alternate with steep cliffs outputs.

This is the first time in Khakassia managed to get a rare shot of the Altai snowcock, walking on the snowy ground.

Also camera traps caught in the lens Siberian stag, ibex (Siberian ibex) and now there is an opportunity to see the night shots of musk-deer.

“The main route of the expedition in the river valley Karatosh held in extremely harsh conditions. In those areas where the researchers were trying to reach, there was virtually no snow, that made the path difficult for snowmobiles. Previously prepared paths and roads were covered with frazil. However, these climatic conditions are more favorable, than deep and loose snow for the inhabitants of the mountain taiga. In particular, the ungulates do not experience difficulties in feeding and movement with small snow, ” said Victor Nepomnyashiy.

There is very little time before the Following Snow Leopard Footprints expedition ends.

The researchers are planning to set five more camera traps in the Pozarym Wildlife Refuge during this short period.

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