First Photos of a Snow Leopard in Ala-Archa National Park

First Photos of a Snow Leopard in Ala-Archa National Park

There was an incredibly thick fog over Bishkek as we set out for Ala-Archa National Park. But it wasn’t the bad weather that worried us, it was how this would affect our results. Each member of our team wondered what the our photos would look like.

This trip was within the framework of the 2016-17 Cooperation Agreement between Ala-Archa National Park, the Institute of Biology and Soil Science of the National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic (BPI NAS KR), and the public environmental organization Panthera USA. In mid-January 2017, together with researchers from Ala-Archa Park, BPI NAS KR, Employees of the State Agency for Environmental Protection and Forestry, and students of the environmental departments of the Bishkek Humanitarian University and the American University of Central Asia set up 16 photo/video traps to study wild animals on territory of Ala-Archa National Park.

By the time we arrived at the park, the weather was wonderful, and there was a feeling that the weather had cleared up specially for us. We divided into groups to collect previously installed camera traps. Upon receiving instructions, each group got down to work. My group and I went up to the first camera trap, and between looking at the GPS data and looking around me, I appreciated the picturesque beauty of nature and clean air! Only 41 kilometers from the capital and we are at an altitude of 3000 meters above sea level –  I understood again why Kyrgyzstan is called the country of mountains!!! When we took down the second camera trap, we heard the Ular bird singing! It was very close to us. Our group returned to the base point to meet up with the other participants in high spirits. When I saw their faces, I noticed that they were all happy, especially Orozbek, a recent graduate of the Bishkek Humanitarian University. For the first time in his life, he saw with his own eyes a live leopard in the wild, not far from our camera trap! Most don’t have the opportunity to see rare animals like snow leopards, lynx, mountain goats, and others with their own eyes. What news!!! When we found photographs of a snow leopard in camera traps, we were very happy, as these are the first photos of a snow leopard from camera traps in Ala-Archa!!! Just 41 kilometers from Bishkek, our team was able to photograph the Snow Leopard using PANTHERA V camera traps. Many thanks to all the participants! Special thanks to the administration of Ala-Archa National Park!

Zairbek Kubanychbekov, Director of Ilbirs Foundation

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