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Siberian scientists to track snow leopards using 'photo traps'

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Russian scientists will install special video cameras - so-called photo traps - to monitor endangered snow leopards in southwestern Siberia, the Altai Nature Reserve's deputy security head said on Friday.

Russian scientists will install special video cameras - so-called photo traps - to monitor endangered snow leopards in southwestern Siberia, the Altai Nature Reserve's deputy security head said on Friday.

Russia has an estimated total of 150 of the large mountain cats, which are in the Red Book of Endangered Species.

Usually weighing 35 to 55 kilograms, the snow leopard is slightly smaller than a leopard. Exceptional large males can weigh up to 75 kg. The head and body length is 100 to 130 cm, and the shoulder height is about 60 cm.

Seven photo traps have been already installed in the Argut River valley in the Altai mountains and 11 more cameras are due to be installed in the fall, Sergei Spitsyn said.

The U.S.-made gadgets are equipped with sensory devices that launch photo capturing when the animal approaches.

The scientists say photo shooting currently is the most effective method of monitoring animals inhabiting reserved areas. It has long been used in Russia's Far East for supervision of the Far East leopard.

"Each snow leopard has a unique fur-pattern. Actually, if images of body parts are obtained, it will be possible to identify each animal," Spitsyn said.

Snow leopards are hunted for their skin, meat and bones, which are widely used in traditional Chinese medicine.

NOVOSIBIRSK, September 3 (RIA Novosti) 

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