The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people in Kazakhstan to stay at home and follow social distancing rules, and while for many this has turned out to be a life-shattering experience thanks to the economy collapsing, for the wildlife near the Big Almaty Lake this has been a chance to reclaim natural areas, usually bustling with people.
The camera trap installed by Kazakhstan’s Snow Leopard Foundation caught a snow leopard, a Tian-Shan bear, as well as foxes and other creatures roaming freely day and night.
“While we were gone. One camera – many lives. We returned recently to check our camera traps and got incredible shots. While Almaty residents were placed into lockdown, bears returned to the city. Our camera recorded a female leopard with a сub, a fox, and other inhabitants of the Alatau mountains,” wrote the foundation on their Instagram page.
Video published by Kazakhstan’s Snow Leopard Foundation on its Instagram page.
Located in the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains 2,511 meters above sea level and around 28 kilometers south of Almaty, Big Almaty Lake is one of the most popular tourist destinations both among locals and tourists. Fresh mountain air, the beautiful color of the lake that tends to change from light-green to turquoise-blue, and breathtaking mountain views are what attract people every weekend, but with lockdown measures in place, the area became suddenly silent.
The fund workers were surprised to find out their camera traps captured a snow leopard with a cub, but they believe it is related to lockdown and the lack of human interference. Snow leopards are listed in Kazakhstan’s Red Book, and their number is drastically declining due to habitat loss, poaching, and climate change.