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Aruge, S., Batool, H., Khan, F. M., Abbas, F. I., Janjua, S. (2019). A pilot study�genetic diversity and population structure of snow leopards of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, using molecular techniques. PeerJ, (7672), 1–14.
Abstract: Background: The Hindu Kush and Karakoram mountain ranges in Pakistan�s northern areas are a natural habitat of the snow leopard (Panthera uncia syn. Uncia uncia) but the ecological studies on this animal are scarce since it is human shy by nature and lives in dif!cult mountainous tracts. The pilot study is conducted to exploit the genetic diversity and population structure of the snow leopard in this selected natural habitat of the member of the wildcat family in Pakistan.
Method: About 50 putative scat samples of snow leopard from !ve localities of Gilgit-Baltistan (Pakistan) along with a control sample of zoo maintained male snow leopard were collected for comparison. Signi!cant quality and quantity of genomic DNA was extracted from scat samples using combined Zhang�phenol�chloroform method and successful ampli!cation of cytochrome c oxidase I gene (190 bp) using mini-barcode primers, seven simple sequence repeats (SSR) markers and Y-linked AMELY gene (200 bp) was done.
Results: Cytochrome c oxidase I gene sequencing suggested that 33/50 (66%) scat samples were of snow leopard. AMELY primer suggested that out of 33 ampli!ed samples, 21 (63.63%) scats were from male and 12 (36.36%) from female leopards. Through successful ampli!cation of DNA of 25 out of 33 (75.75%) scat samples using SSR markers, a total of 68 alleles on seven SSR loci were identi!ed, showing low heterozygosity, while high gene "ow between population.
Discussion: The low gene flow rate among the population results in low genetic diversity causing decreased diversi!cation. This affects the adaptability to climatic changes, thus ultimately resulting in decreased population size of the species.
Chetri, M., Odden, M., Devineau, O., McCarthy, T., Wegge, P. (2020). Multiple factors influence local perceptions of snow leopards and
Himalayan wolves in the central Himalayas, Nepal. PeerJ, , 1–18.
Abstract: An understanding of local perceptions of carnivores is
important for conservation and management planning. In the central
Himalayas, Nepal, we interviewed 428 individuals from 85 settlements
using a semi-structured questionnaire to quantitatively assess local
perceptions and tolerance of snow leopards and wolves. We used
generalized linear mixed effect models to assess influential factors,
and found that tolerance of snow leopards was much higher than of
wolves. Interestingly, having experienced livestock losses had a minor
impact on perceptions of the carnivores. Occupation of the respondents
had a strong effect on perceptions of snow leopards but not of wolves.
Literacy and age had weak impacts on snow leopard perceptions, but the
interaction among these terms showed a marked effect, that is, being
illiterate had a more marked negative impact among older respondents.
Among the various factors affecting perceptions of wolves, numbers of
livestock owned and gender were the most important predictors. People
with larger livestock herds were more negative towards wolves. In terms
of gender, males were more positive to wolves than females, but no such
pattern was observed for snow leopards. People’s negative perceptions
towards wolves were also related to the remoteness of the villages.
Factors affecting people’s perceptions could not be generalized for the
two species, and thus need to be addressed separately. We suggest future
conservation projects and programs should prioritize remote settlements.
Karki, A., Panthi, S. (2021). Factors affecting livestock depredation by snow leopards (Panthera uncia) in the Himalayan region of Nepal. PeerJ, 9(e11575), 1–14.
Abstract: The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) found in central Asia is classified as vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Every year, large number of livestock are killed by snow leopards in Nepal, leading to economic loss to local communities and making human-snow leopard conflict a major threat to snow leopard conservation. We conducted formal and informal stakeholder’s interviews to gather information related to livestock depredation with the aim to map the attack sites by the snow leopard. These sites were further validated by district forest office staffs to assess sources of bias. Attack sites older than 3 years were removed from the survey. We found 109 attack sites and visited all the sites for geo location purpose (GPS points of all unique sites were taken). We maintained at least a 100 m distance between attack locations to ensure that each attack location was unique, which resulted in 86 unique locations. A total of 235 km2 was used to define livestock depredation risk zone during this study. Using Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt) modeling, we found that distance to livestock sheds, distance to paths, aspect, and distance to roads were major contributing factors to the snow leopard’s attacks. We identified 13.64 km2 as risk zone for livestock depredation from snow leopards in the study area. Furthermore, snow leopards preferred to attack livestock near livestock shelters, far from human paths and at moderate distance from motor roads. These identified attack zones should be managed both for snow leopard conservation and livestock protection in order to balance human livelihoods while protecting snow leopards and their habitats.
Pal, R., Panwar, A., Goyal, S. P., Sathyakumar, S. (2022). Changes in ecological conditions may influence intraguild competition: inferring interaction patterns of snow leopard with co-predators. PeerJ, 10(e14277), 1–26.
Abstract: Background: Large-scale changes in habitat conditions due to human modifications and climate change require management practices to consider how species communities can alter amidst these changes. Understanding species interactions across the gradient of space, anthropogenic pressure, and season provide the opportunity to anticipate possible dynamics in the changing scenarios. We studied the interspecific interactions of carnivore species in a high-altitude ecosystem over seasonal (summer and winter) and resource gradients (livestock grazing) to assess the impact of changing abiotic and biotic settings on coexistence.
Methods: The study was conducted in the Upper Bhagirathi basin, Western Himalaya, India. We analyzed around 4 years of camera trap monitoring data to understand seasonal spatial and temporal interactions of the snow leopard with common leopard and woolly wolf were assessed in the greater and trans-Himalayan habitats, respectively. We used two species occupancy models to assess spatial interactions, and circadian activity patterns were used to assess seasonal temporal overlap amongst carnivores. In addition, we examined scats to understand the commonalities in prey selection.
Results: The result showed that although snow leopard and wolves depend on the same limited prey species and show high temporal overlap, habitat heterogeneity and differential habitat use facilitate co-occurrence between these two predators. Snow leopard and common leopard were spatially independent in the summer. Conversely, the common leopard negatively influences the space use of snow leopard in the winter. Limited prey resources (lack of livestock), restricted space (due to snow cover), and similar activity patterns in winter might result in strong competition, causing these species to avoid each other on a spatial scale. The study showed that in addition to species traits and size, ecological settings also play a significant role in deciding the intensity of competition between large carnivores. Climate change and habitat shifts are predicted to increase the spatial overlap between snow leopard and co-predators in the future. In such scenarios, wolves and snow leopards may coexist in a topographically diverse environment, provided sufficient prey are available. However, shifts in tree line might lead to severe competition between common leopards and snow leopards, which could be detrimental to the latter. Further monitoring of resource use across abiotic and biotic environments may improve our understanding of how changing ecological conditions can affect resource partitioning between snow leopards and predators.
Keywords: Common leopard, Woolly wolf, Occupancy, Interspecific interactions, Temporal overlap, Scat analysis