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We're coming, Mama! Unique pictures of snow leopards released

By The Siberian Times reporter
15 August 2012

This endangered snow leopard and her two cautious cubs are among only 100 or so living in the wild in Russia.

These snow leopard cubs, less than a year old,  were pictured by Russian WWF cameras installed high up in the mountaints.
Picture: WWF Russia / S. Spitsyn

These remarkable pictures were taken by a special automatic wildlife camera high in the Altai Mountains close to the border with Mongolia. Poachers are a real threat to the rare leopards of which there may now be as few as 3,000 across their natural habitat in mountain ranges between Nepal and Russia. 

'There is still a huge problem with poachers, who find it easier to shoot one snow leopard and sell its skin, making more money than if they were working in normal job for months,' said Tatyana Ivanitskaya, of the World Wide Fund for Nature in Altai-Sayani region, which released the images.

'We have a real struggle to try to establish how many snow leopards we have and then to protect them from illegal hunters.'

'There is genuine joy among Russian wildlife lovers at this photographic proof of two new cubs in Altai - and now the WWF has launched a competition to name them', she told The Siberian Times. 

WWF pictures of snow leopard, Altai Mountains, Siberia

WWF pictures of snow leopard, Altai Mountains, Siberia
Coming, Mama! The snow leopard cubs were pictured closely following their mother. Pictures: WWF Russia / S. Spitsyn
'This are unique pictures showing the mother snow leopard, and her two cubs, less than a year old, on top of the Chikhachyov range in the Altai Mountains, some 3,000 metres above  sea level,' she said. 

'We are very proud to show them to the world, as it is one of the most difficult tasks for scientists  to get an image of snow leopards in their natural habitat.'

'They walked right past our fixed automatic camera. There would be no way to get such pictures with ordinary lenses, however mighty they are. 

'The snow leopards are extremely cautious, specially when it is a mother with cubs. 

'Every three months we have expeditions going up the mountains to set the cameras up, take the filled memory sticks and put the new ones in.'

She stressed: 'Now we want to name these cubs - because  every snow leopard gets registered with its own unique ID 'card' since each has its own unique spots pattern. 

'We can't say if they are male or female, so together with our partner, Altaisky Nature Reserve, we are asking animal lovers around the world to take part in a little competition for the best names that work for either sex. 

'We will arrange a nice prize from the WWF Altai-Sayani eco-region. Please email us at 60@wwf.ru by 10 September.'


Snow leopards roam across a dozen nations in Asia from Russia to Nepal in ranges such as the Himalayas, Karakoram, Hindu Kush, Pamir, Tien Shan, and Altai. The creatures have spectacular leaping ability and are coloured in a way that camouflages them to near invisibility on the rocky alpine slopes of their native habitat.

The best guess is that there are only between 3,000 and 7,500 across this vast region of two million square kilometres.Poachers take leopards for their skins but also for use in the traditional medicine trade, especially in China. Yet this is not the only threat to the snow leopards. 

Their prey are in increasingly short supply - such animals as wild sheep,  goats, and marmots. Leopards are also shot because - faced with food shortages - they attack livestock in or near remote villages. 

Comments (6)

Great these being done to preserve iconic cats. Suggested names could be "Hope" and "Future"
douglas potter, perth/australia
21/08/2013 08:33
1
1
its very beutiful photos.I love snow leopards
Michal Sefr, Praha
27/11/2012 22:10
1
0
sweet!!!
Katie, UK
17/08/2012 13:57
2
0
so we need a name that would suit both male and female? Alex? or Sasha, as it is the derivation from the same name
Zhenya, Novosibirsk
16/08/2012 02:28
3
0
What impresses me is how Russian nature lovers are caring for these animals at at time when people have their own worries. It is a fine example. Thank you.
Angela Johnson, Chicago
16/08/2012 01:58
5
0
Impressive pictures, thank you ST
Kelvin, Cape Town
16/08/2012 01:39
3
0
1

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