Camera traps to collect snow leopard photos have now become routine but I can only imagine the excitement when researchers check what they’ve got on the cameras they retrieve after months out in the wild valleys and mountains.
A few days ago camera traps were retrieved in the mountains of Tajikistan after being set between November last year and April this year in the remote and beautiful Ravmeddara Gorge. And researchers were elated at what they found. Photos of six individual snow leopards and ibex, the wild goat that is good snow leopard prey.
Since 2008 traditional hunters have been supported by the Nature Protection Team, a Tajik NGO and the German government to establish community rangers. Their role was to stop the rampant poaching of ibex that had been going on.
Stefan Michel, wildlife expert of CIM-program with the Nature Protection Team, said “The evidence of the presence of such a large number of snow leopards shows that local people have successfully brought the ibex population back to a size which can support several snow leopard families.”
Now researchers know there are over 400 ibex here.
Munavvar Alidodov and Khalil Karimov, Nature Protection Team, who just came back from retrieving the traps, said “the rangers are very proud of the results of their work and hope that the presence of snow leopards and ibex will attract tourists. Income from future regulated hunting of ibex will support their conservation activities and the social-economic development of the villages involved.”