Read the article below for the details of the snow leopard’s illegitimate capture on 3/14 in the Altai-Sayan region. We are told that he will be released and (we hope) returned to Sayano-Shushensky Zapovednik on March 20. Some in Altai speculate that this will be another media stunt involving Putin personally fitting the radiocollar, as he has done in the past with a tiger and a polar bear. The Severtsov Institute involved in this animal’s capture is that same one that is involved in planned the scientific killing of four snow leopards in Mongolia later this year.
Please contact us if you would like to take action on behalf of Mongol.
WWF believes that a male snow leopard caught for scientific purposes in Sayano-Shushensky Zapovednik and illegally transported by helicopter to Khakassiya must be immediately set free at the site of his capture.
WWF appeals to RosPrirodNazdor (Russian federal Environmental Oversight Agency) with this same request.
According to the press office of the UNDP/GEP Altai-Sayan program, on March 14, 2011 staff from the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution (RAS) captured a male snow leopard. Witnesses report that on March 15 the snow leopard was transported to Khakassiya Republic to the border zone of Khakassky Zapovednik, where it was placed in a cage and where it is still being held.
In accordance with the permit issued by RosPrirodNadzor on March 4, 2011 to acquire a wild animal listed in the Russian Red Book #7, the capture should have been conducted in the presence of a representative of the regional RosPrirodNazdor office, and it should only have been caught for the purposes of being fitted with a satellite-tracking collar, after which the animal should have been set free. However, not a single one of these conditions was met: they did not wait for the RosPrirodNadzor representative to arrive, and after the snow leopard’s capture, it was not set free, but instead illegally held captive.
The UNDP/GEF press release states that the captured animal is well-known to the staff at Sayano-Shushensky Zapovednik as the dominant male named Mongol. He plays a leading reproductive role in the small population of snow leopard in that region. The removal of the dominant male can result in changes to the group’s structure that may lead to future negative impacts on its reproductive potential.
According to survey data collected between 2008 and 2010, the only known group of snow leopard in Krasnoyarsk Krai resides within Sayano-Shushensky Zapovednik. That population of 7-8 animals has remained stable thanks only to the strict biosphere reserve principle at the Zapovednik.
WWF-Russia insists that the captured animal be released immediately at the site where it was captured.
Translation by Jennifer Castner