Lama, R. P., Ghale, T. R., Suwal, M. K., Ranabhat, R., Regmi, G. R. (2018). First photographic evidence of Snow Leopard Panthera uncia (Mammalia: Carnivora: Felidae) outside current protected areas network in Nepal Himalaya. Journal of Threatened Taxa, , 12086–12090.
Abstract: The Snow Leopard Panthera uncia is a rare top predator of high-altitude ecosystems and insufficiently surveyed outside of protected areas in Nepal. We conducted a rapid camera-trapping survey to assess the presence of Snow Leopard in the Limi valley of Humla District. Three individuals were recorded in two camera locations offering the first photographic evidence of this elusive cat outside the protected area network of Nepal. In addition to Snow Leopard, the Blue Sheep Pseudois nayaur, Beech Marten Martes foina, Pika Ochotona spp. and different species of birds were also detected by camera-traps. More extensive surveys and monitoring are needed for reliably estimating the population size of Snow Leopard in the area. The most urgent needs are community-based conservation activities aimed at mitigating immediate threats of poaching, retaliatory killing, and rapid prey depletion to ensure the survival of this top predator in the Himalaya.
Johansson, O., Koehler, G., Rauset, G. R.< Samelius, G., Andren, H., Mishra, C., Lhagvarsuren, P., McCarthy, T., Low, M. (2018). Sex specific seasonal variation in puma and snow leopard home range utilization. Ecosphere, 9(8), 1–14.
Abstract: Territory size is often larger for males than for females in species without biparental care. For large solitary carnivores, this is explained by males encompassing a set of female territories to monopolize their reproduction during mating (area maximization). However, males are expected to behave more like females outside of breeding, with their area utilization being dependent on the range required to secure food resources (area minimization). To examine how male and female solitary carnivores adjust their spatial organization during the year as key resources (mates and prey) change, we radio‐collared 17 pumas (Puma concolor; nine males and eight females) and 14 snow leopards (Panthera uncia; seven males and seven females) and estimated home range size and overlap on two temporal scales (annual vs. monthly). Contrary to expectation, we found no evidence that males monopolized females (the mean territory overlap between females and the focal male during the mating season was 0.28 and 0.64 in pumas and snow leopards, respectively). Although male�male overlap of annual home ranges was comparatively high (snow leopards [0.21] vs. pumas [0.11]), monthly home range overlaps were small (snow leopards [0.02] vs. pumas [0.08]) suggesting strong territoriality. In pumas, both males and females reduced their monthly home ranges in winter, and at the same time, prey distribution was clumped and mating activity increased. In snow leopards, females showed little variation in seasonal home range size, following the seasonal stability in their primary prey. However, male snow leopards reduced their monthly home range utilization in the mating season. In line with other studies, our results suggest that female seasonal home range variation is largely explained by changes in food resource distribution. However, contrary to expectations, male territories did not generally encompass those of females, and males reduced their home ranges during mating. Our results show that male and female territorial boundaries tend to intersect in these species, and hint at the operation of female choice and male mate guarding within these mating systems.
Holt, C. D. S., Nevin, O. T., Smith, D., Convery, I. (2018). Environmental niche overlap between snow leopard and four prey species in Kazakhstan. Elsevier, (48), 97–103.
Abstract: The snow leopard Panthera uncia has declined due to habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and human persecution. Predator distribution is heavily dependent on prey species availability and distribution. With increasing pressures from farming practices encroaching into native species range and persecution of snow leopards in response to livestock depredation, it is vital to assess current predator and prey species distribution to highlight sensitive areas of overlap for protection. This study uses MaxEnt, a presence-only Species Distribution Model (SDM) to assess snow leopard and four prey species habitat suitability along
the southern and eastern borders of Kazakhstan using environmental data. This area is considered an important corridor between snow leopard populations in the north and south of their range. Each of the five SDM's produced models of �good� discriminating abilities. We then compared the potential niche overlap between snow leopard and four prey species using ENMTools to highlight areas of important niche overlap within the corridor. The results indicated a very high degree of overlap between snow leopard and Siberian ibex and high degrees Capra sibirica with red deer Cervus elaphus, argali Ovis ammon and urial Ovis orientalis. The snow leopard population in this region is also found to be using forested areas below 2500 m, much lower than recorded in other areas of their range. The results highlight areas needed for protection but also pose additional conservation questions regarding the importance of prey species to transitory individuals.
Khanal, G., Poudyal, L. P., Devkota, B. P., Ranabhat, R., Wegge, P. (2018). Status and conservation of the snow leopard Panthera uncia in Api Nampa Conservation Area, Nepal. Fauna & Flora International, , 1–8.
Abstract: The snow leopard Panthera uncia is globally
threatened and reliable information on its abundance,
distribution and prey species is a prerequisite for its conservation.
In October-November 2014 we assessed the distribution
of the snow leopard in the recently established Api
Nampa Conservation Area in the Nepal Himalayas.
Within selected blocks we conducted sign surveys and
counted the number of bharal Pseudois nayaur, its principal
wild prey, along transects totalling 106 km.We recorded 203
putative snow leopard signs at an encounter rate of 1.91
signs/km. Generalized linear models of the number of
signs detected per transect showed that elevation had a positive
influence and human activities a negative influence on
sign encounter rate; prey abundance had only a weak positive
influence on sign encounter rate. Within the effectively
surveyed area of c. 2002 km2, we counted 527 bharal at an estimated
density of 2.28 animals/km2. Recruitment of bharal
was low, estimated at 48 kids/100 adult females, most likely a
result of poor or overgrazed rangeland. We estimate
the total number of bharal in this conservation area to be
.>1,000, a prey base that could sustain 6-9 snow leopards.
Based on our field observations, we identified human disturbance
and habitat degradation associated with extraction
of non-timber forest products, livestock grazing, and poaching
as the main threats to the snow leopard. Standardized
sign surveys, preferably supplemented by sampling with
remote cameras or with genetic analysis of scats would
provide robust baseline information on the abundance of
snow leopards in this conservation area.
Hanson, J. H., Schutgens, M., Lama, R.P., Aryal, A., Dhakal, M. (2018). Local attitudes to the proposed translocation of blue sheep Pseudois nayaur to Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal. Fauna & Flora International, , 1–7.
Abstract: Translocations are an important tool for the conservation
of biodiversity, but although ecological feasibility
studies are frequently conducted prior to implementation,
social feasibility studies that consider how local communities
perceive such projects are less common. The translocation
of blue sheep Pseudois nayaur to Sagarmatha National
Park, Nepal, has been proposed, to reduce livestock depredation
by snow leopards Panthera uncia by providing an alternative
prey base in addition to the small population of
Himalayan thar Hemitragus jemlahicus. This study used
systematic sampling, a quantitative questionnaire and qualitative
interviews within the Park to provide data on the social
viability of the proposed translocation. Quantitative
analysis revealed moderate levels of support but qualitative
analysis suggested that there are significant concerns about
the proposal. In addition,multiple regression analysis found
that women and livestock owners were significantly less
supportive, although the model had low explanatory
power. Potential crop damage and competition for forage
were frequently cited as concerns, especially amongst
those with a high level of dependence on natural resources.
Given the mixed response to the proposed translocation of
blue sheep to the Everest region, alleviating the reservations
of local residents is likely to be key to any further consultation,
planning or implementation.
Shrestha, B., Aihartza, J., Kindlmann. (2018). Diet and prey selection by snow leopards in the Nepalese Himalayas. PLoS ONE, , 1–18.
Abstract: Visual attractiveness and rarity often results in large carnivores being adopted as flagship
species for stimulating conservation awareness. Their hunting behaviour and prey selection
can affect the population dynamics of their prey, which in turn affects the population dynamics
of these large carnivores. Therefore, our understanding of their trophic ecology and foraging
strategies is important for predicting their population dynamics and consequently for
developing effective conservation programs. Here we concentrate on an endangered species
of carnivores, the snow leopard, in the Himalayas. Most previous studies on snow leopard
diet lack information on prey availability and/or did not genetically check, whether the
identification of snow leopard scats is correct, as their scats are similar to those of other
carnivores. We studied the prey of snow leopard in three Himalayan regions in Nepal
(Sagarmatha National Park (SNP), Lower Mustang (LM) and Upper Manang (UM) in the
Annapurna Conservation Area, during winter and summer in 2014�2016. We collected 268
scats along 139.3 km linear transects, of which 122 were genetically confirmed to belong to
snow leopard. Their diet was identified by comparing hairs in scats with our reference collection
of the hairs of potential prey. We determined prey availability using 32�48 camera-traps
and 4,567 trap nights. In the SNP, the most frequent prey in snow leopard faeces was the
Himalayan tahr in both winter and summer. In LM and UM, its main prey was blue sheep in
winter, but yak and goat in summer. In terms of relative biomass consumed, yak was the
main prey everywhere in both seasons. Snow leopard preferred large prey and avoided
small prey in summer but not in winter, with regional differences. It preferred domestic to
wild prey only in winter, and in SNP. Unlike most other studies carried out in the same area,
our study uses genetic methods for identifying the source of the scat. Studies solely based
on visual identification of samples may be strongly biased. Diet studies based on frequency
of occurrence of prey tend to overestimate the importance of small prey, which may be consumed
more often, but contribute less energy than large prey. However, even assessments
based on prey biomass are unlikely to be accurate as we do not know whether the actual
size of the prey consumed corresponds to the average size used to calculate the biomass
eaten. For example, large adults may be too difficult to catch and therefore mostly young animals are consumed, whose weight is much lower. We show that snow leopard consumes
a diverse range of prey, which varies both regionally and seasonally. We conclude that in
order to conserve snow leopards it is also necessary to conserve its main wild species of
prey, which will reduce the incidence of losses of livestock.
Karnaukhov, A. S., Malykh, S. V., Korablev, M. P., Kalashnikova, Y. M., Poyarkov, A. D., Rozhnov, V. V. (2018). Current Status of the Eastern Sayan Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) Grouping and Its Nutritive Base. Biology Bulletin, 45(9), 1106–1115.
Abstract: A field survey of snow leopard (Panthera uncia) habitats was carried out in the southeastern part of
the Eastern Sayan Mountains (Okinskii and Tunkinskii districts of the Republic of Buryatia and the Kaa-
Khemskii district of Tuva Republic). Seven or eight adult snow leopards were observed as constant inhabitants
of the Tunkinskie Gol'tsy, Munku-Sardyk, and Bol'shoi Sayan mountain ridges. The presence of eight
snow leopards was confirmed using DNA-based analyses of scats collected in 2014 – 2016. The main prey species
of the snow leopard in Eastern Sayan is the Siberian ibex (Capra sibirica), but its abundance has steadily
decreased over the past 20 years. The red deer (Cervus elaphus) and the wild boar (Sus scrofa), which were
some of the most numerous ungulates in the survey area, are replacing the Siberian ibex in the snow leopard's
diet. In addition, the mountain hare (Lepus timidus) is also of importance to the snow leopard's diet.
Chetri, M., Odden, M., Wegge, P. (2017). Snow Leopard and Himalayan Wolf: Food Habits and Prey Selection in the Central Himalayas, Nepal. Plos, (12(2)), 2–16.
Abstract: Top carnivores play an important role in maintaining energy flow and functioning of the ecosystem,
and a clear understanding of their diets and foraging strategies is essential for
developing effective conservation strategies. In this paper, we compared diets and prey
selection of snow leopards and wolves based on analyses of genotyped scats (snow leopards
n = 182, wolves n = 57), collected within 26 sampling grid cells (5×5 km) that were distributed
across a vast landscape of ca 5000 km2 in the Central Himalayas, Nepal. Within the
grid cells, we sampled prey abundances using the double observer method. We found that
interspecific differences in diet composition and prey selection reflected their respective
habitat preferences, i.e. snow leopards significantly preferred cliff-dwelling wild ungulates
(mainly bharal, 57% of identified material in scat samples), whereas wolves preferred typically
plain-dwellers (Tibetan gazelle, kiang and argali, 31%). Livestock was consumed less
frequently than their proportional availability by both predators (snow leopard = 27%; wolf =
24%), but significant avoidance was only detected among snow leopards. Among livestock
species, snow leopards significantly preferred horses and goats, avoided yaks, and used
sheep as available. We identified factors influencing diet composition using Generalized Linear
Mixed Models. Wolves showed seasonal differences in the occurrence of small mammals/
birds, probably due to the winter hibernation of an important prey, marmots. For snow
leopard, occurrence of both wild ungulates and livestock in scats depended on sex and latitude.
Wild ungulates occurrence increased while livestock decreased from south to north,
probably due to a latitudinal gradient in prey availability. Livestock occurred more frequently
in scats from male snow leopards (males: 47%, females: 21%), and wild ungulates more frequently
in scats from females (males: 48%, females: 70%). The sexual difference agrees
with previous telemetry studies on snow leopards and other large carnivores, and may
reflect a high-risk high-gain strategy among males.
Mishra, C., Young, J. C., Fiechter, M., Rutherford, B., Redpath, S. M. (2017). Building partnerships with communities for biodiversity conservation: lessons from Asian mountains. Journal of Applied Ecology, , 1–9.
Abstract: Applied ecology lies at the intersection of human societies and natural systems. Consequently, applied ecologists are constantly challenged as to how best to use ecological knowledge to influence the management of ecosystems (Habel et al. 2013). As Hulme (2011) has pointed out, to do so effectively we must leave our ivory towers and engage with stakeholders. This engagement is especially important and challenging in areas of the world where poverty, weak institutions and poor governance structures conspire to limit the ability of local communities to contribute to biodiversity conservation. These communities often bear disproportionate costs in the form of curtailed access to natural resources, ecosystem services, and developmental
programmes, and also suffer wildlife-caused damage, including injuries or loss of human life, and economic
and psychological impacts (Madhusudan & Mishra 2003). It is well-recognized that conservation efforts in large parts of the world historically have been perceived to be discriminatory by local people (Mishra 2016). The need for engagement with local communities is therefore embedded in the 2020 Aichi biodiversity targets and is widely thought to be critical to the success of conservation efforts. However, although the need for engagement is clear, as ecologists and practitioners we often have little formal training in how we should engage with local communities and how we can recognize the pitfalls and opportunities provided by developing genuine partnerships. The practical challenges of achieving effective engagement are considerable (Agrawal & Gibson 1999; Waylen et al. 2010, 2013), and such forays are fraught with difficulties and ethical considerations (Chan et al. 2007). When they are done badly, conservation interventions
can damage relationships and trust, and lead to serious injustice to local people and setbacks for ecological
outcomes (Duffy 2010). Much has been written on knowledge exchange and participatory research approaches (e.g. Reed et al. 2014 and references therein). This Practitioner’s Perspective
seeks to focus on the next logical step: the elements that practitioners and researchers need to consider when
engaging with communities to effect conservation. Engagement around the management of protected areas
has been discussed and formalized (e.g. Dudley 2008). Considerable literature has also emerged, particularly
from Africa, on the use and co-management of natural resources, commonly referred to as community-based natural resource management or CBNRM (e.g. Fabricius 2004; Roe, Nelson & Sandbrook 2009; Child & Barnes
2010). There have been attempts to draw general principles for CBNRM (e.g. Thakadu 2005; Gruber 2010). In
the related field of community-based conservation, however, while there have been efforts to draw lessons (e.g. Berkes 2004), little exists in terms of frameworks or guidelines for effectively working with local communities to effect biodiversity conservation in multi-use landscapes
(Mishra 2016). The eight principles for community-based conservation outlined here (Fig. 1) build on ideas developed in fields as diverse as applied ecology, conservation and natural
resource management, community health, social psychology, rural development, negotiation theory, and ethics
(see Mishra 2016). They have been developed, challenged and tested through 20 years of community experience andour own research on the endangered snow leopard Panthera uncia and its mountain ecosystems, in South and Central Asia. We suspect that with contextual adaptations, their relevance for applied ecologists and practitioners may be universal.
Din, J. U., Ali, H., Ali, A., Younus, M., Mehmood,, T., Rashid, Y. N., Nawaz, M. A. (2017). Pastoralist-predator interaction at the roof of the world: Conflict dynamics and implications for conservation. Ecology and Society, 22(2).
Abstract: Pastoralism and predation are two major concomitantly known facts and matters of concern for conservation biologists worldwide. Pastoralist-predator conflict constitutes a major social-ecological concern in the Pamir mountain range encompassing Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan, and affects community attitudes and tolerance toward carnivores. Very few studies have been conducted to understand the dynamics of livestock predation by large carnivores like snow leopards (Panthera uncia) and wolves (Canis
lupus), owing to the region�s remoteness and inaccessibility. This study attempts to assess the intensity of livestock predation (and resulting perceptions) by snow leopards and wolves across the Afghani, Pakistani, and Tajik Pamir range during the period January 2008�June 2012. The study found that livestock mortality due to disease is the most serious threat to livestock (an average 3.5 animal heads per household per year) and ultimately to the rural economy (an average of US$352 per household per year) as compared to
predation (1.78 animal heads per household per year, US$191) in the three study sites. Overall, 1419 (315 per year) heads of livestock were reportedly killed by snow leopards (47%) and wolves (53%) in the study sites. People with comparatively smaller landholdings and limited earning options, other than livestock rearing, expressed negative attitudes toward both wolves and snow leopards and vice versa. Education was found to be an effective solution to dilute people�s hatred for predators. Low public tolerance of the wolf and
snow leopard in general explained the magnitude of the threat facing predators in the Pamirs. This will likely continue unless tangible and informed conservation measures like disease control and predation compensation programs are taken among others.