The Day of Snow Leopard has been marked on May 26 in Altay for 11 years already, since 2010. It is a regional environmental date which is marked separately from International Snow Leopard Day on October 23

Snow leopard is the least studied wild cat in the world. This animal has the status of rare or endangered specie in Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, where its habitats are located. It is included in the list of International Union for Conservation of Nature and listed in Red Books of countries where it can be found. 

The second name of the animal is Irbis. There are only 4,000 individuals in the world today including 70-90 ones in Russia. Ecologists think that Irbis belongs to species that are ort of indicators of ecosystem’s health. The disappearance of such species upsets the balance, and the ecosystem starts collapsing along the chain. 

The Day of Snow Leopard in Altay reminds of the need for preserving this species, as Altay is the habitat of the most numerous Irbis group. Over the period from February to April 2020, the scientists have counted the population of snow leopard in Saylyugem National Park. Using automatic cameras, they discovered 21 animals there – 15 adult individuals and 6 kittens. 

The specie is on the verge of extinction mostly due to human activities – poaching, hunting due to attacking cattle, withdrawal for private zoos, reduction in food supply and development of infrastructure in areas of habitat. Altay-based scientists carry out environmentally enlightening activities aimed at conservation of snow leopard. The administration of natural reserve involves local residents in installation and servicing of camera traps in the habitats of Irbis. 

Irbis is unable to roar, it murmurs when inhaling and exhaling, likes to play in the snow and is not adapted to walking in loose snow. The animals lay paths and moves along them for years. Irbis does not attack people as a rule. Having met a man, it either hides or walks away.

Snow leopard is the only big cat specie living in highlands – at the altitude of up to 4,500 meters above sea level. Mountain goats, as well as roes and deer in some places constitute the main type of food for snow leopards in Russia. In case of dramatic drop in the population of wild ungulates, Irbis leaves the area as a rule, but sometimes starts hunting cattle.

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Based on the articles of Ministry of Natural Resources, Agency of Social Information