News & Events

Stay up to date on what’s happening at The Altai Project.

On Our Mind in February

Because of you, we are able to distribute more support to our Altaian partners and expand our fundraising and international reach.

Lake Kindyktykul, looking toward Tyva/Mongolia (photo by A. Rhodes)

The Lake with a Belly Button

In Altaian the name literally means “lake with a belly button “, and the lake has a small island in its center that is an important wildlife refuge for endangered waterbirds.

Traditional Altaian Fire Ceremony (photo credit T. McLeod)

Traditional Wisdom for Future Generations

Blending nature and conservation with traditional knowledge is the goal of the AruSvaty Educational Center for Traditional Altaian Wisdom.

Climbing up above the lake (photo by A. Rhodes)

Lake Kindyktykul

Lake Kindyktykul (“Kin-dik-tik-kool”) borders Chikhachev Ridge in southeastern Altai and is home to over 20 species of endangered birds.

Altai argali sheep skulls (photo by J. Gibbs)

2015 Helicopter crash – poaching again in Kosh-Agach District?

6 years after the 2009 argali poaching scandal, another helicopter of hunters crashes in Kosh-Agach District, accompanied by a Sailyugem National Park ranger. Article examines the background and evidence to date.

Mergen Markov (photo by F. Koopmans)

Former Poacher Receives 2015 Disney Conservation Hero Award

The Altai Project is thrilled to announce that Altai’s newest snow leopard protector, Mergen Markov, a former poacher, has been honored with a Disney Conservation Hero Award from Disney Conservation Fund!

Aduchi Beletov

The Story of Aduchi – A Snow Leopard Encounter

Aduchi lives with his family in the small but tidy indigenous Altaian village of Inegen on the shores of the tumultuous Argut River.

Ice formations on a river

On Our Mind

Plans for 2015 – Pipelines, mining, raptor and snow leopard conservation, and much more!

Mergen bundled up and ready to ride out

2015 Field report and photos

Sergei Spitsyn and his team returned from a field expedition with new snow leopard evidence, incredible photos, and the successful removal of poachers’ snares.

Abandoned rocky corrals overlooking the Ukok Plateau

On Our Mind

We at The Altai Project remain deeply concerned about potentially irreversible damage to sacred lands and complex ecosystems.

Visit with an Altaian artisan

35+ artisans have come together in the village of Kupchegen to form a cooperative venture

Highlights from a 2015 trip to Altai

Each time I travel to Altai, the trips combine field work and office meetings, and I try to meet as many people as possible to gain new perspectives. This year was no exception.

A rocky altar overlooking the Ukok Plateau.

Why Keep Altai in the Spotlight?

Altai is a biological and ecological gold mine but also has deep cultural roots that sets it apart from other parts of the world. One way to think about why Altai is important is that its landscape is ecologically on par with the Amazonian rainforest, Antarctica, and other large unique ecosystems.

Two snow leopard kittens tumbling playfully on a rocky slope

Community-Led Big Cat Protection in 2014 – Thank You, Disney!

Thanks to Senior Researcher at Altaisky State Nature Reserve Sergei Spitsyn’s efforts to stop poaching and assess the population, we estimate the population has grown to 5-8 cats – a tremendous improvement!

Altai argali sheep skulls (photo by J. Gibbs)

UPDATE: Balancing Conservation and Hunting in Altai

Russian Ministry of Natural Resources considers allowing trophy-hunting for Altai argali. In response, Altai Republic considers a ban on all sport-hunting in Altai for 2-3 years.

Russian Ministry of Natural Resources Wants to Delist Argali Sheep and Allow Trophy-hunting

Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources will consider a highly controversial proposal to delist the Altai argali mountain sheep from Red Book protection and specifically permit trophy-hunting.

From Poacher to Protector

In 2010, Sergei Spitsyn, director of Arkhar NGO and a senior scientist at Altaisky State Nature Reserve, pinpointed the locations of two snow leopards in the Argut River basin via sign survey and camera-trapping. In 2013, with Sergei’s leadership and expertise, The Altai Project began a radical initiative to identify and engage poachers in snow…

Not Just Any Kittens!

Did somebody say kittens? Snow leopard kittens? Incredible new photos!

Sponsor a Snow Leopard

Learn more about the launch of our new Sponsor a Snow Leopard program!

Wild Altai Expedition 2013

A sampling of images taken during our 2013 Wild Altai Expedition

First photograph of a rare snow leopard in Altai Republic, Russia

Learn about a live snow leopard sighting during the 2013 Wild Altai Expedition.

Altai Pipeline: One step forward for Ukok, one step back for sacred sites

Despite eliminating the Altai route in 2013, threats to Ukok Plateau remain. Gazprom continues to negotiate and plan an eastern pipeline route.

Update on Mongol the snow leopard

Last heard about on this website in March 2011, Mongol is in the news once again. He was captured in March 2013 in Sayano-Shushensky Nature Reserve to receive a new satellite-tracking collar and to undergo a veterinary exam and have samples collected.

First video footage of Altai snow leopards

In 2012 our partner and snow leopard expert provided us with the first ever video footage of a snow leopard on Chikhachev Ridge in southeastern Altai Republic. Video footage of snow leopards is important not only to provide clear evidence of which snow leopards are visiting and how they behave, but it also allows scientists…

Prevent Poaching Today – Donate!

Make a tax-deductible gift to keep poachers out of snow leopard habitat. We urgently need your support for patrols this winter.

New Ak-Cholushpa Nature Park gets a quick start

Newly-formed Ak-Cholushpa Nature Park on the southern shores of Lake Teletskoye has received a start-up grant from the UNDP’s Altai Sayan climate change program.

Visiting Altai: Land of the Snow Leopard

“Land of the Snow Leopard” describes a tourist travel route with waypoints in the Argut River valley and along the Sailyugem Ridge in Altai Republic, Mongun-Taiga Mountain and Tsagan-Shibetu Ridge in Tyva Republic, and snow leopard and argali habitat in Mongolian Altai. There are opportunities for wildlife viewing, diverse recreation, car camping, and cultural activities…

Altai Republic officials approve pipeline construction despite legal questions

Altai Republic takes several steps to push the Altai pipeline project ahead despite the absence of a signed agreement between Russia and China and many questions concerning the legality of these moves. Click to read more of this update.

Pipeline Update: UNESCO leaves Altai with concerns

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee sent a delegation to Altai Republic to express its concern about the Altai Gas Pipeline. Although Russia and China are still negotiating to set the price of the pipeline’s natural gas, the Save Ukok Coalition remains deeply concerned about this environmentally dangerous and economically unjustified project.

Biologists from the US and Spain Count Sheep in Altai

In August 2011, The Altai Project sent a team of two wildlife ecologists and three graduate students from the US to Altai to join an international survey of argali mountain sheep.

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