The Altai

Exploration in Southern Siberia, 9th-28th August 2012

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Wildlife Risk Assessment

10th July 2012, by Eleri

The Altai are full of all kinds of exciting animals it seems. Eleri takes a quick look at the sorts of carnivores we don't plan on encountering...

Snow Leopard

Weight: Up to 75kg
Top speed: 37mph

Key characteristics:
Carnivorous, eats mainly sheep, wild boar, marmots and other small rodents.

Action plan:
Snow leopards are the least aggressive of the big cats. They do not attack humans unless provoked. Therefore upon meeting a snow leopard the plan will be to smile sweetly and back away slowly.

Risk rating: Low. They look quite cute really.

Brown Bear (Grizzly)

Weight: Up to 600kg
Top speed: 35mph

Key characteristics:
The brown bear is extremely omnivorous, and will be curious about the potential of eating virtually any organism or object that they encounter. Despite their reputation, however, brown bears derive up to 90% of their dietary food energy through vegetable matter.

Action Plan:
Brown bears usually avoid humans and will not attack unless surprised or threatened. However when they do attack, the attack is likely to end in serious injury, or death. In direct confrontations, people who run are statistically more likely to be attacked than those who stand their ground.

Studies have also indicated that pepper spray can be more effective at stopping aggressive bear behaviour than guns. So the plan is to not run away from a bear, store all food and toiletries away from our sleeping tents, and maybe buy some pepper spray.
N.B Adult bears can’t climb trees, young ones can. So if it looks old and there’s a tree nearby...

Risk Rating: Moderate. It’s unlikely that we’ll see one, it’s unlikely it will attack us, but if these two events do happen then we could be in a lot of trouble.


Weight: Up to 30kg
Top speed: 34mph

Key characteristics:
The Lynx is native to Siberian forests. It is a solitary and nocturnal animal, which tends to hunt during dawn and dusk. It tends to eat small mammals like rabbits, hares and mice.

Action plan:
A Lynx won’t attack a human unless it is defending itself or it’s young. Therefore the plan is just to stay away!

Risk rating: Low. Another case of cute cat.

Kuril Tea

This stuff grows in the Altai mountain range. It is a bush with plumose leaves. Apparently it’s very good for you, and can help ease diarrhoea, problems with the cardiovascular system, diseases of the liver, and a high body temperature. So it pretty much covers all bases then!

Note: Must make sure not to confuse with the Cannabis Selvia plant, as apparently this grows in the area too.

Risk rating: Very low. Even if we do mistake the Cannabis plant for it, the effects aren’t going to be too catastrophic.

Altai argali

Weight: 170-180kg

Key characteristics:
This is a traditional subspecies of argali, wild sheep. It is the largest sheep in the world! It has HUGE horns, with those of mature males weighing up to 35kg.

Action plan:
The Altai Argali are unlikely to cause any problems for us, unless we upset them and they start getting angry with their horns. So the plan is to take pictures from a safe distance and remember that although they might look fluffy and cuddly, they do have massive horns.

Risk rating: Low