On Our Mind

Happy 2015!

Despite the complexity of Russia’s geopolitics today, we are thrilled to share our plans for the new year and what that means for the wildlife, landscapes, and peoples of Altai.

In 2014, we were very happy with the new “Sponsor a Snow Leopard-Sponsor a Poacher” program. Two former poachers with long family histories of poaching joined forces with snow leopard expert, Sergei Spitsyn, to learn how to protect and study these big cats in our Argut project area. Financially compensated for their success, they made a living all the while locally promoting the importance of wildlife conservation with their peers. In 2015, we will continue to expand this program, and, with the help of Sergei’s team, attract new local snow leopard protectors. As always we will continue supporting ongoing research and advocacy for snow leopards.

Former poacher Mergen Markov talks about his role…

This year is also an important year for rare species conservation as a whole in Altai. In addition to our long-term support to Siberian Environmental Center (SEC) for studying raptors and preventing the electrocution of the large birds on utilities towers, they will work with Altai government and protected areas to create an online database detailing the status, location, and threats for all of Altai’s rare species. This expert-crowdsourced database will provide important support and leverage for species-based conservation in the region.

In addition to these projects, we will continue to:

  • monitor resource development threats in Altai, including mining (placer gold and open pit sites) and plans for the Altai gas pipeline;
  • provide grants and technical support to partner organizations and protected areas in Altai;
  • facilitate development of the AruSvaty Traditional Wisdom Center in the sacred Karakol Valley; and
  • support and increase awareness of Altai and Altaians around the world.

The Altai pipeline and the Karakul mine could both become reality in the near future, and we will work with local and international experts and community advocates to support grassroots efforts to ensure rule of law and public participation in resource extraction decision-making.

As always, our efforts are guided in large part by our trusted partner organizations in Altai and we hope to count on you, our supporters, to garner maximum support for protecting nature and strengthening communities in Altai Republic.