New survey finds stable snow leopard population in Russia

Good news for endangered snow leopards in Russia: their numbers have grown since last year, according to the results of a new WWF study.

Last winter, a WWF census found a total of 61 snow leopards in Russia’s Altai-Sayan Ecoregion, a remote landscape where high, snowy mountain ranges offer a last refuge for this rare feline. Surveying a larger area than ever before, experts used images from camera traps, pugmarks (or pawprints), and genetic analysis to identify 38 adult snow leopards and 23 cubs throughout their home range—a positive sign that the animals are breeding.

One of the adult females had recently given birth to four cubs, setting the record for the highest number found in a single litter.

Snow leopard numbers have been relatively steady in Russia since WWF and partners first began monitoring them three years ago. But with fewer than 7,000 estimated to live in the wild, they remain endangered. In Russia and beyond, snow leopards face a number of threats that promise to only intensify as climate change impacts their high-altitude habitat and sources of food.

“Populations of Siberian Ibex—important prey for snow leopards—are in sharp decline everywhere,” says senior coordinator Alexander Karnaukhov from WWF’s Altai-Sayan program.

Original Title: New survey finds stable snow leopard population in Russia
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