WWF - Altai – Sayan globally important species

Altai – Sayan globally important species

Snow leopard - Uncia uncia

Snow leopards occur in high mountain with precipitous broken terrain. The snow leopard is the only big cat species that lives in high mountain areas. Their main prey species are Siberian ibex, Argali sheep, pika, hare, marmot, snowcock but it also can hunt deer and wild boar (small rodents can constitute a considerable percentage of the snow leopard’s diet during summer and fall). Population of a snow leopard varies between 800 and 1500 animals for Mongolia and 70-90 animals for Russia, with a density estimate varying between 1 to 1,5 animals per 100 sq. km.

Argali Sheep - Ovis ammon ammon

Altai argali / ©: Alexander Kreik/ WWF Russia
Altai argali
© Alexander Kreik/ WWF Russia
Isolated populations occur in Mongol Altai mountains, Khan Khokhii mountain range, Khoridol Saridag Mountain of Khovsgol and by the upstream of Arsai river. During the summer in the Altai, Khangai mountains, they migrate up to the glacier meadows, moving back down in winter.

Transboundary population varies from 1080 to 1170 animals. They seasonly migrate between Russia and Mongolia depending on the weather conditions. The population has rapidly decreased due to extensive illegal hunting and severe winters. Also the competition for pasture with domestic livestock is one of the main factors in population decline.


Falcon (gerfalcon, saker falcon and peregrine falcon)

Falcons were respected as a state emblem of ancient Mongolian tribes thousands of years ago symbolizing grim courage and aggression.

Large falcon trading (gerfalcon, saker falcon and peregrine falcon) exclusively connected with demand for hunting birds in Arab countries remains at previous levels of approximately 100 birds a year. According to expert estimation, during the five year period 2003 – 2008 saker falcon population in various areas of the region have been reduced by 15 – 25%.

Every year, several dozen of argali mountain sheep and snow leopard and approximately one hundred falcons, such as saker falcon, peregrine falcon and gerfalcon, are lost to poaching.

Musk deer- Moschus moschiferus

Musk deer in Russia / ©: Grigori Mazmanyants/ WWF Canon
Musk deer in Russia
© Grigori Mazmanyants/ WWF Canon
Within the ecoregion, the musk deer is distributed in Khovsgol, Tsagaan Shuvuut and Khan Khokhii Mountain Ranges in Mongolia and in Republics of Altai, Tyva and Khakassia in Russia. Demand for musk pod which is used for beauty and medicine causes the increase of illegal hunting. Major predators are wolf, wolverines, lynx and bear.

Saiga Antelope - Saiga borealis mongolica

Saiga antelope inhabits the desert steppe region in the very south extension of eco-region where the Altai Mountains meet the Gobi desert and the southern extensions of the Great Lakes Depression.

The range was reduced, and in the 1950’s rarely the animal was seen in only two places that cover 20 percent of the previous range. The site is officially protected as Sharga and Mankhan Natural Reserve.

Recent aerial survey (August 2010) suggests the population size up to 10000 individuals. But the population number fluctuates due to natural and human disturbances.

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