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Snap Cat: Former Poachers Swap Guns For Cameras To Save Russia’s Snow Leopard

RadioFreeEurope/ RadioLiberty

KseniaSmolyakova & Robert Coalson

Ecologists long suspected the rugged mountains of Sailyugemsky National Park — tucked into the Central Asian notch where Kazakhstan, Russia, China, and Mongolia meet — were prime habitat for the beautiful, endangered snow leopard.

But little was known about the numbers or habits of the elusive creatures. In 2010, American researcher Rodney Jackson of the Snow Leopard Conservancy donated 20 motion-activated camera traps to his Russian colleagues in hopes of learning more.

Rodney said that if we protect the snow leopard in the Argut area, then their population might recover to sustainable levels within 10 years,” Russian naturalist Sergei Spitsyn tells RFE/RL. “Because this is the home of the largest concentration of Siberian mountain goats, which is the snow leopard’s preferred prey.”

“But to our surprise,” Spitsyn continues, “over about two years of trying we were not able to photograph a single snow leopard. Only in February 2012 did we find the tracks of two individuals on the left bank of the Argut River. We set up a camera trap and in May we finally got pictures of the two animals, which we named Vita and Kryuk. We understood that we needed people who were intimately familiar with the domain of the snow leopard: hunters.”

In 2013, Spitsyn traveled to the remote settlement of Argut to meet with local hunter Mergen Markov. Life in Argut is severe — the one road into the settlement is often passable only to the sturdy local horses. The 12 remaining residents try to eke out a living as shepherds. But a lot of them turn to poaching to make ends meet. A snow leopard pelt can bring in more than 40,000 rubles ($620).

The meeting with Markov lasted just minutes.

Mergen Markov knew where to put the cameras

“He came in and told me his project,” Markov recalls. “Told me how it was supposed to work. He gave me a photo trap and a four-month trial period. We agreed on where I’d put the camera. So I went there and set it up.”

Markov knew that the cameras had to be placed high on the cliffs, about 2,000 meters in elevation.

His first trip was a success.

“I showed my first photos of a snow leopard to my father and he told me immediately that it was a pregnant female,” Markov recalled. “A few months later, I put a camera at the same spot and caught a photo of the same female with two kittens. I got a few more photos of them and named them Batyr and Argut.”

Markov has been wandering the Altai Mountains since he was 5 years old, hunting with his father and herding sheep and cattle. “That was my life before I went into the army, and again after I got back,” he tells RFE/RL.

Under the program a village agrees to remove poaching traps and to refrain from setting more. If at the end of the year a photo trap is able to capture an image of a snow leopard in the region of that village, the WWF pays them 40,000 rubles — the value of one pelt. In addition, the WWF hires the locals to work as guides for other projects, and rents horses from them.

It was an easy transition for most to make, says Denis Malikov, scientific researcher at Sailyugemsky Park. “You shouldn’t think that people here just started worrying about preserving wildlife when scientists arrived,” he tells RFE/RL. “For people in Altai, both the snow leopard and the argali mountain sheep are sacred animals.”

Argut lies in extremely rugged terrain

Markov now has 10 cameras, and monitors three snow leopards full time. “I travel constantly, through the taiga and along the cliffs,” he says. “I visit each camera once a month. I have known this whole region since I was a child. My father doesn’t hunt anymore, but I’m still a hunter. Just a different kind of hunter. I try to help everyone who is trying to protect the snow leopard.”

There are estimated to be 70 to 90 wild snow leopards remaining in Russia, 53 of them living along the Argut River and along the Kurai Range. The future for them is looking a little brighter, but they remain in peril.

“Now there are no longer markets full of snow-leopard pelts,” Sailyugemsky naturalist Malikov says. “But they still often get caught in traps set for musk deer or other animals. Deer musk still brings good money.”

“So hunters still present a danger to the snow leopard,” he adds. “One poacher might set anywhere from 50 to 200 traps.”

Written by Robert Coalson based on reporting by Ksenia Smolyakova of the Siberia Desk of RFE/RL’s Russian Service

Copyright © 1998-2016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036

Featured Image Courtesy: programmes.putin.kremln.ru

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India News Brief

 29 May, 2020

Railways is fully committed to help our worker brethren reach their home states. We will schedule Shramik Special Trains on the same day as we get demand from originating state and we will run the train on the next day itself, Railway Board Chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav Said.

According to him, only 1.85% of total 3,840 trains were diverted, and that too for only 4 days

Nearly 80 percent of Shramik Special passengers were to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar

Probable Guidelines for Lockdown 5.0.

More travel routes are likely to open in Lockdown 5.0.

From June 1, the Railways will operate 100 pairs of mail or express trains, bookings have already begun. Then AC class services will resume.

Some states have already begun intra-state buses. Other states may  begin intra-tate bus services after June 1.Metro  services may begin in a limited manner, with lesser passenger capacity, social distancing norms and longer stops at each station.

Shops selling non-essential items were allowed to open during Lockdown 4.0.. More shops may open in Lockdown 5.0 even in markets.But no confirmed news regarding opening of shopping malls.Now many shops that have re-opened in market areas are operating on an odd-even basis.

Some cities have already allowed salons and beauty parlours to open with strict social distancing guidelines and wearing protective gear is a must.In containment areas the same rule may prevail in Lockdown 5.0.

 

The Human Resource Development Ministry of India will soon announce the guidelines of   schools reopening.

Single Day COVID-19 7,400 Cases 
The Tally in Mumbai Crosses 35,000 Mark 

COVID:19:  Total Cases: 165,799 Total Deaths: 4,711: JHU

Limited Lockdown 5.0 is on the Card for 2 weeks with stringent measures in 11 cities (Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Pune, Thane, Jaipur, Surat and Indore) is on the Card.Metro Rail,Shopping malls may be open: Reports 

India's Most Affected States:

Maharashtra: Total Positive Cases:59,546 Total Deaths: 1,982

Gujarat: Total Positive Cases: 15,572 Total Deaths: 960

Madhya Pradesh: Total Positive Cases: 7,261 Total Deaths: 333

West Bengal: Total Positive Cases: 4,536 Total Deaths: 295

Delhi: Total Positive Cases: 16,281 Total Deaths: 316

Rajasthan: Total Positive Cases: 8,067 Total Deaths: 179

Uttar Pradesh: Total Positive  Cases: 6,991 Total Deaths: 182

Tamil Nadu : Total Positive Cases: 19,372  Total Deaths: 145

Andhra Pradesh: Total Positive Cases: 3171 Total Deaths: 58

Telengana: Total Positive Cases: 2,098 Total Deaths: 63

Karnataka: Total Positive Cases: 2,533 Total Deaths: 47

Punjab: Total Positive Cases: 2,158 Total Deaths: 40

Jammu and Kashmir: 2036 Total Deaths: 26

How to identify Fake News or Messeges on Social Media 

Beware of Fake News and Fake Messages on Social Media

Always follow websites or social media platforms of traditional media outlets whether newspapers, magazines,Television News Channels or Radio Stations and authentic online only media outlets.They still maintain journalism excellence and stress on reportorial talent.On the other hand, fake news websites run by people with non journalism background and promote their own ideology with fake news and disinformations and obviously conspiracy theories.

But unfortunately mainstream media also manipulates news to establish their story angle.There were various instances when News papers and TV Channels promoted fake news/conspiracy theories in the form of out of context or manipulated pictures/videos and distorted informations.

Always check the URL of any website.Some fake news websites look like the orginal and popular one the same layout,Logo but if you check the URL you may find extra words like if the orginal website's URL is www.xxx.com the duplicate one might be www.xxx.com.co or something like that so first check the URL for authentic informations.

Check whether photos are original or photoshopped.Check Google images for authenticity.You can find help from Google Reverse Images search.

Check the news sources from other websites whether they picked up the story or not.

Whether the website layout is little bit clumsy and obviously grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes and excessive use of Sex related and sensational and hate stories.Because sex and hate sells.

Follow official websites relating to COVID-19

WHO Clarifies the disinformation about the virus:
COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates
Cold Weather and Snow can not kill the new coronavirus
Taking a Hot Bath Does Not Prevent COVID-19
COVID-19 Can not be transmitted through mosquito bites

Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth)

According to World Health Organization (WHO): Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth . If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.

If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition

Follow WHO guidelines

www.who.int

When you follow COVID-19 related news and messages from social media then check and recheck it before consuming it.Follow journalism mantra: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Most of the messages or informations quote different organizations like WHO, UNICEF, UNDP,Cambridge University  or other well known institutes,organizations or individual to authenticate the messeges.Check official websites of these organizations  if stories are repeated there

Forwarding messages from unknown sources or little known sources, it would be better to ignore it.

Check whether any logo like UNICEF or WHO or other organizations used in the messages which look similar to original logo.

These type of messages are full of Grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes which are quite uncommon in original messages.

Don't rely on viral social media messages such as Coronavirus Infected Indian Currencies of Rs.500 and Rs.2,000 Notes Found, Muslim Man Spit in Food At Indian Restaurant.....Always Check Authentic Sources.

Some fake messages pretend to be real one like unofficial Twitter handle of international media organizations like BBC,CNN,Washinton Post, New York Times-check the official Twitter handles of media outlets.

You can identify fake messages if the message requests you to share it.

Beware of Fake News or Fake Photos/Videos Relating to Communal Hatred

Always check the fact checking sites if you have some doubts about the authenticity of any information or picture.

www.boomlive.in

www.altnews.in

https://check4spam.com

https://smhoaxslayer.com

www.factchecker.in

www.allsides.com

www.factcheck.org

www.newsbusters.org

www.politifact.com

www.snopes.com

www.propublica.org

The Same Method Applies to You Tube Videos Check the Source the credibility of the Source.To Check Fake You Tube Videos Check and Recheck the sources. Does the person have the legal right to the video posted? Did that person capture the video? Whether it has been altered?

But due to advancement of technology we can not really wipe out fake news.According to experts advent of  Artificial Intelligence(AI) some companies small or big one developing  technologies that can  lay digitally created script to anybody's voice  even words,sentences never said by the person.Even they are developing a technology which can create fake video footage,images,audios like originals.So be cautious! Rumour-mongers are active everywhere whether in physical world or cyber world.

 

For any further information relating to fake news and how-to search authentic informations from the internet write to us info@crimeandmoreworld.com or Whats App:+919073399779

COVID-19 Related Conspiracy Theories:
https://fsi.stanford.edu/news/china-covid19

 

 

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