Women and Voices from Periphery

The high Himalayan landscape in Himachal Pradesh is fascinating geography with unique biodiversity. The communities share a rich understanding of living harmoniously with nature and coexisting with wildlife around them. Deepshikha & Chemi reflect upon how women from these landscapes navigate conservation spaces, the joys, and struggles of bringing them to the forefront, and their experiences of building conservation champions and outreach networks.

From climate to carnivores: the transitions of a change

Major climatic changes have occurred on a number of occasions, with over 50 such changes taking place in the Pleistocene epoch alone. Each time climate change events have required ecological and behavioural adaptations to surviving plant and animal species, obliging them to seek refuge in suitable areas or cope with habitat modifications and alterations of local plant/animal communities. This can potentially lead to inter-species competition. Mountains are strongly seasonal habitats, which require special adaptations for wildlife species living on them.

Population dynamics of mountain ungulates are strongly influenced by the availability of rich food resources to sustain lactation and weaning during summer seasons. In turn, well fed juveniles will survive winter rigours more easily. In the case of an increase of temperature – such as in the current ongoing climatic change – plant phenology and nutritional quality will be affected. Predictions have been made on what could happen to populations of mountain ungulates based on how climate change could alter the distribution pattern and quality of high elevation vegetation. In this talk we will explore a case study using the “clover community-Apennine chamois Rupicapra pyrenaica ornata” to explore these relationships. All scenarios suggest a decline of the Apennine chamois in the next 50 years in its historical core range- from about 85% to 99% near-extinction. It is argued that the negative consequences of climate changes presently occurring at lower elevations will shift to higher ones in the future. These effects will vary with the species-specific ecological and behavioural flexibility of mountain herbivores, as well as with availability of climate refugia.

If climatic conditions do continue to change, these are likely to elicit a variation of resource availability for herbivores, and in turn for carnivores. A potential for exacerbation of interspecific competition could follow. Species distribution and abundance will be affected calling for farsighted measures of adaptive management and conservation.

Find out more about our speaker here

Snow Leopard Training Grant – Call for Proposals

Since 2020 the Snow Leopard Network has made a special effort to build and share capacities related to snow leopard research and conservation. The 2020 – 2021 SLN Training Initiative covered 15 modules with 372 participants joining the online sessions. This was possible thanks to the support of our partners who provided resources and leadership on critical snow leopard related conservation themes and tools. 

2022 offers the opportunity to support teams working across the snow leopard range in leading additional training modules. We are pleased to announce the 2022 Call for Proposals for the Snow Leopard Training Grant which is designed to further strengthen snow leopard conservation and research, especially at the grassroots level. This is made possible through the generous support of the Pangje Foundation, an SLN member organization dedicated to protecting snow leopards and helping local communities.

The specific goal of the 2022 Training Grant centres around building capacities in snow leopard research and conservation among grassroot stakeholders. The scope of the capacity projects to be funded is broad and includes trainings/workshops in support of community conservation, protected area management (supporting local rangers and protected area staff etc.), conservation education, women conservation leadership training and wildlife population monitoring (snow leopard & prey). Other training and capacity building themes related to snow leopard conservation at the grassroots level will also be considered. Please note that the Training Grant available in 2022 is not designed for funding wider research or conservation projects in themselves but is specific to supporting Training or Workshop events.

Proposal Guidelines

Eligibility: The Training Grant is open to all SLN members and researchers/practitioners/organizations working to support snow leopard conservation. One proposal per applicant, team or organization will be considered. Unfortunately, current regulations do not allow this funding to be available for activities in the People’s Republic of China. 

Grant size: Awards will range from $1000 to $1500. All award funds should plan to be used in 2022. Project proposals should aim to use these relatively modest amounts as strategically as possible. Other funding sources can be included in the budget to increase the overall project funding size.

Selection criteria: Proposals will be judged on a competitive basis. Applications will be evaluated by SLN’s Grant Review Panel, and judged on:

                  • Relevance to snow leopard conservation at the grassroots level
                  • Training methodology/philosophy
                  • Scientific and/or conservation rigor of the proposal
                  • Collaboration with local partners

Proposal Submission: Proposals (written in English) must be submitted electronically as a single pdf file to Rakhee Karumbaya, SLN’s Program Coordinator (rakhee@snowleopardnetwork.org). Proposals will be considered if received before 25th February, 2022 (18:00 Bishkek time). Applications that do not use the forms attached below will not be considered. The pdf file should include: 

                  • an Application form completed (max. 3 pages, according to the attached form). Download the Application form here.
                  • a CV of the project team leader/principal applicant (max. 2 pages)

Reporting: A final report on the awarded projects (process and results) is due by December 15th, 2022. Please submit your final report as a Word document.  Download the report outline here.

Time Schedule

25 February 2022: All Proposals submitted by email. Kindly note that we will not be able to consider late proposals.

End of March 2022: Proposals selected for funding by the SLN Grant Review Panel will be announced.

Mid April 2022: Funds available for disbursement.

Mid April – 1 December 2022: Projects take place as agreed in proposals. 

15 December 2022: Grantees submit final report.

Women & Community Conservation

Across the range, snow leopards and people share space. Engaging with local communities is essential for snow leopard conservation. Community based programmes tend to engage with men largely due to social norms and existing power structures. This often results in excluding women, who are important stakeholders and form almost 50% of the adult population, from conservation action and decision making.

In this webinar, we explore how to better engage women in conservation programs across the snow leopard landscape. We hear examples from existing programs that specifically target women and discuss how conservation programs can themselves shift social norms around gender equality (positively or negatively). We also examine the key role of policy in transforming community based programs through incorporating gender sensitive approaches.  

We will be hearing from conservationists across the snow leopard range – Bayara Agvantsaaren, Dr. LuZhi and Rashmi Singh – who are working at different levels to engage women in snow leopard conservation. Each of them will highlight a particular aspect of their work that highlights the opportunities and challenges in promoting women’s role in community based conservation. Dr. Charudutt Mishra, the Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Trust, will facilitate the panel discussion. Charu has been a pioneer in community based conservation and brings a special perspective around how to make a difference at the ground level.

This webinar is Part 1 of a Webinar Series focussing on the role of women in snow leopard conservation and science (watch the Part 2 recording which took place in September 2021).

#EncounterUncia Twitter Conference Schedule

Do join us for the #EncounterUncia Twitter Conference taking place next Monday to Wednesday Dec 6-8th! Over 30 conservation practitioners from across the snow leopard range and world will be presenting over the 3 days on Twitter- sharing stories and strategies to promote coexistence with the big cat. Watch the conference proceedings HERE.

 

#EncounterUncia Schedule

Main Host Account: @snowleopardnet 

Partner Accounts: @gslep_program @PantheraCats @wwf @snowleopards

Day 1: December 6th 2021

8:00 – 9:00 am Bishkek time

  • Jigmet Dadul (@byron_weckworth) -“Ladakh, India, a snow leopard encountered in a corral”
  • Shannon Kachel (@sm_kachel) – “Livestock corrals win-win for people and snow leopards?”
  • Imtiaz Ahmed (@Imtiazbattaphut) – “2 snow leopard cubs in Khunjerab National Park”
  • Imogene Cancellare (@biologistimo) – “Two sightings, one day: lactating snow leopards in The Valley of the Cats, China
  • Nadia Mijiddorj (@MijiddorjNadia) – “PARTNERS Principles for engaging with communities”  

14:00 – 15:00 Bishkek time

  • Imtiaz Ahmed (@Imtiazbattaphut) – “A snow leopard attacks my livestock”
  • WWF Russia (@wwfRU) – “Alexey’s encounter with the snow leopard”
  • Purevjav Lkhagvajav (@pujiilkhagva) – “Snow leopard’s encountered in the desert steppe of the Gobi”
  • Choidogjamts Byambasuren (@Choidogjamts2) – “Snow Leopard Encounter in the Steppe capacity building efforts”  
  • Yixuan (@EBC_ebc1) –  “Snow leopard encountered in Inner Mongolia, China”

17:00 –  18:00 Bishkek time

  • Femke Hilderink (@FHilderink) – “The Human Wildlife Conflict report”
  • Terry Townshend (@terrytownshend) – “Snow leopards and Magpies”
  • Miha Krofel (@MihaKrofel) – “The snow leopard hunt” 
  • Sherab Lobzang (@lobzangncf) and Rigzen Dorjay (@Dorjayncf) – “After the Snow Leopard Attack”
  • High Altitude Programme, India (@snowleopard_ncf) – “A snow leopard in the trees”

Day 2: December 7th 2021

8:00 – 9:00 am  Bishkek time

  • Charlotte Hacker (@chacker414)– “Foxlights as a mitigation strategy”
  • Rishi Sharma (@rishieco)– “WWF’s conflict framework protocols”
  • Koustubh Sharma (@koustubh_sharma) – “The GSLEP policy recommendation for encounters”
  • High Altitude Programme, India (@snowleopard_ncf) “Traditional Mitigation Strategies – tales from GYU”
  • Xier Chen (@ShanCenter) – “Encountering snow leopards in the Valley of Cats, China”

14:00 – 15:00 Bishkek time

  • Rahim Kulenbekov and Tanya Rosen (@NarynTRosen)  – “A snow leopard illegally captured and sold”
  • Shannon Kachel (@sm_kachel) – “The translocation of a snow leopard”
  • Orjan Johansson (@JohanssOrjan)– “​​Mitigation strategies for encounters with large carnivores
  • WWF Russia (@wwfRU) – “Removing the border fences for wildlife”
  • Justine Shanti Alexander (@SnowleopardHope) – “The Eurasian lynx & snow leopard in QilianShan, China”

17:00 – 18:00 Bishkek time

  • Snow Leopard Foundation Kyrgyzstan (@snowleopardkg) – “Outreach efforts on handling unusual encounters”
  • Sherab Lobzang (@lobzangncf) and Rigzen Dorjay (@Dorjayncf) – “Innovative predator-proof corral designs”
  • Gustaf Samelius (@GSamelius) – “Unexpected Encounter with a Hamster in the Gobi”
  • Ranjini Murali (@ran_murali)– “The GSLEP snow leopard encounter Database”
  • Tsewang Rigzin (@TsewangRigzin)– “Thinking Outside the Box”

Day 3: December 8th 2021

Live on Twitter Spaces: https://twitter.com/i/spaces/1lDGLLbONDMGm

Join both sessions through Twitter Android or IOS to speak and interact or through the web to just listen in.

15:30 – 16:30 Bishkek time

Live Panel Discussion on Unusual Encounters on Twitter Spaces with WWF, Panthera, Snow Leopard Foundation Pakistan and Snow Leopard Trust Facilitated by Koustubh Sharma 

16:30 – 17:00 Bishkek time

Closing Ceremony and Prize Distribution

WWF Russia press release: Snow leopard love story

Press Release Shared by WWF Russia

Photo by WWF Russia

Snow leopards named Khorgai and Guta are most likely the world’s oldest known couple of snow leopards living in the wild. Both are at least 13 years old, this is the almost maximum recorded age of the snow leopard in nature. In zoos, with enough food and in comfortable conditions, snow leopards can live up to 21 years. They met at least 10 years ago and have at least two litters of cubs together.

“WWF-Russia is confident in the age of Khorgai and Guta, we, together with our partners, have been camera trapping them since 2011-2012. Such old snow leopards are very rare in the wild. Snow leopards at the age of 13 have been recorded in the wild, for example, in Mongolia, but this is the first time a mating couple of snow leopards of this old age has been recorded. Both snow leopards live on the Chikhachev Ridge in the Altai Republic at the border with Mongolia. Being that old proves the living conditions of these snow leopards, it is an indicator of the well-being of this couple, which underlines the importance of Chikhachev Ridge, as a snow leopard habitat. This mountain bridge on the border with Mongolia allows snow leopards migrate from one country to another”, says Alexander Karnaukhov, Senior Coordinator of Altai-Sayan Branch of WWF Russia.

  • Guta, female snow leopard

Guta inhabits the Chikhachev Ridge. Camera traps have been monitoring Guta since 2012 when she was captured with cubs, which means that the female was at least 3 years old. She shares the individual sites with Khorgai, male snow leopard, so it is clear for the scientists that they are a mating couples and have litters together. Guta’s tail tip is not black like in most snow leopards, but white. It is also curved like a question mark. Her tail leaves characteristic strokes in the snow, by which Guta is easy to recognize.

  • Khorgai, male snow leopard 

Khorgai is the dominant male. He is also the likely father of the cubs born by the female named Bogusha. The first photographs of Khorgai were taken in 2011. He spends most of the year on the Altai part of the Chikhachev ridge. Without informing the border guards, without a visa, in winter, during heavy snowfalls, Khorgai migrates to Mongolia. It was Khorgai who was the first snow leopard in Altai to be filmed by camera traps in October 2011 on the Chikhachev Ridge; the snow leopard was already at least two years old. Recorded by Khorgai, a senior researcher at the Altai State Biosphere Reserve, Sergei Spitsyn, a legendary Russian researcher of snow leopards. Long-liver Khorgai has become a universal favorite of scientists and spectators. A corn-eared snow leopard, which is easily recognizable by a scar on the cheek and spots on the tail. Khorgai’s tail has a specific pattern of spots: three spots, then two spots and one spot, like symbols in Morse code. Scientists use these patterns to distinguish snow leopards from each other.

Recently each image of Khorgai and Guta is the joy for scientists. It means the snow leopards are alive and safe. The latest images of Khorgai obtained in 2021. Most likely, Khorgai has more offsprings, at least ten, including cubs in Mongolia. 

Story shared by WWF- Russia

Oct 22, 2021

Photo by WWF Russia

Call for submissions #EncounterUncia (Abstract submission extended)

Twitter Conference: Unusual Encounters with Snow Leopards

December 6-8th, 2021

Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Program (GSLEP) and Snow Leopard Network (SLN) in collaboration with Panthera, WWF and the Snow Leopard Trust will be hosting a Twitter conference on Unusual Snow Leopard Encounters.  

Encounters with snow leopards can take many forms. They can range from rare sightings of one or more snow leopards, coming across injured snow leopards or coming across cubs that may appear abandoned. It can also involve snow leopards killing livestocks in pastures and corrals. Although snow leopards are mostly elusive, these encounters do occur across the snow leopard range and at times can be very stressful for both the people and snow leopards involved. Responses can result in the loss of life or freedom for the snow leopard. Appropriate responses that minimize harm to both people and the snow leopard, and promote long-term coexistence still need to be more widely known, shared and put into practice. 

The aim of the #EncounterUncia Twitter Conference is to collate and share experiences on snow leopard unusual encounters. We also aim to discuss recommendations for handling such encounters, and strategies to mitigate negative interactions between snow leopard and people. 

Unusual encounters with wildlife occur across other habitats and continents. There is a rich body of experiences and knowledge from other species (such as common leopards, elephants, jaguars, crocodiles etc.) which we can learn from and apply to the snow leopard landscape. The Twitter Conference is open to participation from research and conservation practitioners working on both snow leopards and other species and ecosystems to facilitate cross-exchange of knowledge and practices.

Please note that the conference is centered around conservation coexistence strategies for snow leopards and is not limited to accounts of physical encounters with the big cat! We are looking forward to your abstract submissions and stories. 

Photo by Snow Leopard Trust

Call for Submissions

The deadline for abstract submissions is extended until November 22nd!

Participants can submit Applications here

The #EncounterUncia Twitter Conference can only happen with your participation and contributions! We encourage individuals and teams from across the world to share experiences and insights on Unusual Encounters of snow leopards and other species. We have 3 categories:

  • Publications outlining encounters: This section includes any published material related to information on unusual encounters (in english or other languages).  It can include policy documents on recommendations for handling unusual encounters and mitigation strategies, and peer-reviewed publications on effectiveness of mitigation strategies, and success/failures of handling of unusual encounters (such as relocation). Please provide the publication reference and an abstract of the key message/recommendation.
  • Mitigation strategies: This section includes strategies aimed at preventing unusual encounters (eg. predator proof corrals, specific herding practices, traditional practices, deterrents, grazing free zones) or minimizing/reducing risk when the encounters occur (eg. releasing individuals immediately, leaving cubs alone, not tampering with livestock carcasses). These include on-ground interventions and need not be published. This section is open to both snow leopards and other wildlife species.
  • Anecdotes on experiences: This section focuses on snow leopards and includes unpublished material and anecdotal experiences on unusual encounters since 2011. It can include but not limited to incidences of livestock depredation, abandoned cubs, encountering species in unusual habitats. This section does not focus on mitigation strategies but aims to collate stories to develop an understanding of the frequency, types and location of unusual snow leopard encounters.

Key Dates

  • Abstract Submissions October 15- November 22nd : APPLY HERE
  • Conference Dates December 6th, 7th, 8th, 2021
  • At 15:30 Bishkek time Wednesday 8th December, join us for the #EncounterUncia closing ceremony (90 minutes). It will include a live panel discussion (with speakers from the conference partners Panthera, WWF & the Snow Leopard Trust). We will also recognise “outstanding #EncounterUncia Tweet Presentations” during the awards ceremony.

FAQ

  • What is a Twitter Conference?

A Twitter Conference is a free online event (through twitter!) that brings snow leopard researchers and practitioners together from across the world from the comfort of their office/home/fieldstation. The aim is to encourage communication and collaboration amongst #conservation stakeholders around usual encounter and conflict situations.  

  • What is the hashtag?

The conference hashtag is #EncounterUncia . Please use this hashtag for any Twitter communication related to the 2021 conference. 

  • How do you participate on the day itself?

You or your organization will need a twitter account. You can sign up at https://www.twitter.com if you do not already have an account. After you have setup your account you can search for the hashtag #EncounterUncia  (Snow Leopard Encounter Twitter Conference 2021) to see all tweets that relate to the conference. You can then comment, reply, retweet or tweet using the #EncounterUncia. You can also just spectate and follow the interactions by using the hashtag.

You can register for the conference here: https://www.cognitoforms.com/IllegalWildlifeTrade1/TwitterConferenceOnUnusualEncountersWithSnowLeopards

  • How do I participate as a presenter?

The call for presenters will be open from Oct 15 to Nov 15 2021. We encourage individuals or organizations to submit abstracts to 3 themes: Relevant publications, Encounter Anecdotes or Mitigation Strategies. Please see the link here.  Once you have submitted your abstract you will be contacted by the Conference Committee. A subset of submission will be invited to present their work using your individual or organization twitter handle on December 6-8th 2021. Presentations will include 3-5 tweets related to the submission. The Conference Committee will communicate more information closer to the Conference date.   

  • Why participate?
  • Be part of the movement to bring awareness about unusual encounters and encourage stakeholders to handle encounters in a way that minimizes harm to snow leopards and people
  • Learn about the work being done across the snow leopard range to conserve this elusive species
  • 10 submissions will be selected and awarded “Outstanding” contributions. Your team has the opportunity to submit and be selected.

Module 15: Grant and report writing

The SLN training initiative is offering a final 2021 module entitle “Grant and Report Writing”. This December module was specifically requested by SLN members and we are delighted to welcome The Pallas’s cat International Conservation Alliance (PICA) to lead the session. 

Please note that this module will be a one off intensive session taking place in December- so if interested do not miss it! 

 Appy here 

About the course

Securing funding for conservation and research projects is never an easy process. It is highly competitive, bound by strict deadlines and often needs to follow specific requirements set by the funders. It can also be made more difficult when the focal species is lesser known, has a low threat status or when there is little reference data for the species as is often the case with Pallas’s cat (Manul). Even when projects are able to overcome the challenging application process and are successful in securing funding the work does not stop as the applicants must provide detailed reports, manage the project budget and deliver the projects objectives in line with specific timelines. When all of the above are carried out to a high standard it can lead to effective delivery of the project whilst evidencing a scientific and professional approach back to the funder, which could lead to continuation of funding and support.

The Pallas’s cat International Conservation Alliance (PICA) has experience of securing funding, report writing, managing budgets and long term delivery of grants for Pallas’s cat conservation and research. In addition to this PICA has also developed a small grant programme that provides funding and support to targeted conservation projects across the species range. Individually the PICA projects partners (Norden’s Ark, Snow Leopard Trust and RZSS) also possess a wide range of skills and experiences in the field of grant writing and reporting from decades of conservation project management across the globe.

This workshop has been developed as a tool to support conservation practitioners, researchers or students that are looking to develop their skills in grant writing and reporting. The workshop will provide tips, techniques, experiences and an open platform for targeted discussions 

Meet the Resource Team

David Barclay

is the Ex-situ Conservation Manager for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. He specializes in felid population management, animal management and conservation.

Emma Nygren

 is Head of Conservation Programs at Nordens Ark Sweden and is managing conservation programs both nationally and internationally. She is also the project manager for the Pallas’s Cat International Conservation Alliance (PICA).

Dr. Gustaf samelius

is Assistant Director of Science for the Snow Leopard Trust and is working with applied ecology and conservation of mountain ecosystems.

Dr Helen Senn

is the Head of Conservation and Science Programmes for Royal Zoological Society of Scotland where she is responsible for managing conservations work on 23 species in Scotland and around the world.

Katarzyna Ruta

is a Conservation Project Officer at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, where she supports the delivery of a variety of field-based conservation programmes

Criteria for participation

      • Confirmed availability to attend the online seminar
      • Number of participants is limited to 25
      • Priority will be given to participants from snow leopard range countries 

Planned Schedule

    • 2 hour online Zoom Seminar on Wednesday, 15th December  at 15:00 Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan time. 

Applications

    • Friday, December 10th, 2021. Please note places are limited so please do not delay in applying.
    • Applications Closed

SLN Webinar: Snow leopards in the land of mountain deities

Camera trap photo by PNC

We invite you to our next SLN webinar which continues our series on different Science & Conservation perspectives around snow leopards. This webinar will take us to the Tibetan Plateau in China where we will hear from Awang, the founder of the Plateau Nature Conservancy. We will learn about how he and his team are bridging science and traditional knowledge for snow leopard conservation. LingYun, SLN’s Committee Member, will also join us as facilitator, adding insights from her work on the plateau. 

As usual our format will be a talk of 20-30 minutes followed by an interactive discussion. Awang has some remarkable images and stories to share. Please register through the link below and help us spread the word and share the news with your colleagues and those who would be interested in attending.

About the Webinar

Awang will share how the Plateau Nature Conservancy (PNC) is supporting Tibetan herders from the sacred mountain range Amney Machin at the Source of the Yellow River to carry out snow leopard camera trap surveys. He will discuss how his team is working with local herders to combine traditional ways of biodiversity conservation with the concepts of contemporary conservation and regional conservation policy. All of their work is conducted around mountains that are considered sacred in Tibetan Buddhism and around the sacred lakes at the source of the Yellow River. These sacred features of the area provide an opportunity to strengthen and protect these snow leopard landscapes. Awang’s talk will share how such traditional forms of protecting mountain areas are still playing an important role in conservation of alpine ecosystem and wildlife within it.        

Snow leopard camera trap photo by PNC. Can you see the snow leopard?
Phhoto by PNC

About our Guests

Awang is founder and director of Plateau Nature Conservancy (PNC) in China. He is a wildlife conservationist and researcher who has worked in the Tibetan Plateau for 10 years. In 2007, he joined Fauna and Flora International (FFI) and worked on several conservation initiatives including rangeland management, community-based conservation and public environmental education. In 2013, he completed his MSc at DICE, University of Kent, and majored in Biodiversity Conservation and Tourism. He is currently a member of ICCA (Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas) China and China Federation of Youth Committee.

Photo of Awang by PNC

Date/Time

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021 at 16:00-17:00 Beijing time

Location

Zoom: Register through the following link.

Please note

    • If you have never used Zoom before, we recommend that you try the link 10 minutes before the start of the lecture.
    • Please feel free to write questions in the comment area and there will be time for questions/discussion at the end of the talk.
    • Please note that the session will be recorded and later featured on the SLN website. If you have concerns about this please let us know before the session.
Camera trap photo by PNC
Photo by PNC