First photographic evidence of Snow Leopards in Kyrgyz Ala-Too Range
We are thrilled to be able to share with you these first photographs of snow leopards caught on camera in Shamshy, Kyrgyzstan. The former hunting concession – that is now a co-managed wildlife sanctuary by the Kyrgyz government and conservationists including the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation through its partnership with the Snow Leopard Trust – was known to have great potential as a snow leopard habitat.
“Earlier this year, we found snow leopard tracks and scratch marks on several ridge lines in Shamshy. Now, these pictures prove the cat’s presence in the sanctuary,” says Kuban Jumabai uulu , director of the Snow Leopard Foundation Kyrgyzstan, and country programme manager for the Snow Leopard Trust.
Snow leopards were photographed at five different locations within Shamshy Sanctuary in a total of ten encounters. The photos are the first photographic evidence of snow leopards in the Kyrgyz Ala-Too Range (“Snowy Mountains” in Kyrgyz ); a mountain range that is part of the North Tian Shan Mountains and extends some 200 miles from east to west.
Shamshy, 50 miles southeast of Bishkek , Kyrgyzstan’s capital, used to be a hunting concession under the administration of the Kyrgyz Government’s Department of Rational Use of Natural Resources (formerly the Hunting Department).
“It is our duty to manage the natural resources of the Kyrgyz Republic sustainably,” says Musaev Almaz , the Department’s director. “This means finding a healthy balance between exploitation and conservation. This initiative in Shamshy is one such effort towards conserving wildlife populations through alternate models of managing natural areas through co-management.”
On its own, the area is too small to host a sizeable snow leopard population, but it could serve as a core zone of a larger habitat. “With proper protection and management, Shamshy’s ibex population could double or even triple in the next ten years, so it could become an important area for the snow leopard population of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too Range,” says Charu Mishra , the Snow Leopard Trust’s Science & Conservation Director.
“We’re thrilled to see that the snow leopard is already in Shamshy ,” Mr. Musaev says. “This cat is an important part of our national culture and heritage, and we’re committed to securing its future.”
This project has support from: David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, Woodland Park Zoo and Partnership Funding by Fondation Segre , managed by Whitley Fund for Nature.
For more on DSWF’s work with snow leopards in Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan click here