EAST KAZAKHSTAN REGION – With the creation of the West Altai Reserve, local citizens, particularly mushroom hunters, more and more often share stories about their encounters with the master of the taiga.
The suburbs of Ridder are a real backwater in Kazakhstan. According to experts, the population of bears here is at least 100 animals. Local residents also say that the bears are not particularly responsive to people. The bravest mushroom pickers place their stories on social networks supported by photographs.
A year ago, the Snow Leopard Fund (SLF) installed several camera traps to observe the wild world of the reserve in order to get visual confirmation of the snow leopards’ habitation in these mountains. Bears and snow leopards are known predators, therefore, their paths often cross. According to Irina Loginova, director of public relations for the fund, any information about the presence of bears in Altai is extremely valuable for biologists.
Thanks to equipment provided by a programme of small grants of the Global Environment Fund (GEF), they were even able to shoot an original clip for the film “Caucasian Prisoner,” the Soviet hit where the main role was “performed” by a bear. The fact is that the SLF camera traps recorded the bears’ characteristic twist-style scratching.
“The observations show that when bears rub their backs on trees, they leave information on the trunks. It is obvious that male bears use the trees to reduce their martial meetings,” Loginova said. “In such a manner they ‘talk’ to each other, leaving their smell on the trunks and marking the territory. Bears come to the marked trees by ‘stilted’ step, imprinting their paws into the ground with force and leaving the original holes.”
Such marking behaviour reaches the greatest intensity during the May-June mating season. Biologists from the fund are waiting for the fall to take the contents of the camera traps. Perhaps their records will give them an answer to the question of who in the end was the owner of each specific area of the taiga.
With the help of the cameras they even managed to photograph the light, almost white-coloured bears on the territory of the West Altai reserve.