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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.
Augugliaro, C., Paniccia, C., Janchivlamdan, C., Monti, I. E., Boldbaatar, T., Munkhtsog, B. (2019). Mammal inventory in the Mongolian Gobi, with the southeasternmost documented record of the Snow Leopard, Panthera uncia (Schreber, 1775), in the country. Check List, 15(4), 575–578.
Abstract: Studies on mammal diversity and distribution are an important source to develop conservation and management strategies.
The area located in southern Mongolia, encompassing the Alashan Plateau Semi-Desert and the Eastern Gobi Desert-Steppe ecoregions, is considered strategic for the conservation of threatened species. We surveyed the non-volant mammals in the Small Gobi-A Strictly Protected Area (SPA) and its surroundings, by using camera trapping, live trapping, and occasional sightings. We recorded 18 mammal species belonging to 9 families and 6 orders. Among them, 4 are globally threatened or near-threatened, 2 are included in the CITES Appendix I, and 2 are listed in the Appendix II. Moreover, we provide the southeasternmost record for the Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) in Mongolia, supported by photographic evidence. Our study highlights the importance of this protected area to preserve rare, threatened, and elusive species.
Chetri, M., Odden, M., Sharma, K., Flagstad, O., Wegge, P. (2019). Estimating snow leopard density using fecal DNA in a large landscape in north-central Nepal. Global Ecology and Conservation, (17), 1–8.
Abstract: Although abundance estimates have a strong bearing on the conservation status of a
species, less than 2% of the global snow leopard distribution range has been sampled
systematically, mostly in small survey areas. In order to estimate snow leopard density
across a large landscape, we collected 347 putative snow leopard scats from 246 transects
(490 km) in twenty-six 5 5km sized sampling grid cells within 4393 km2 in Annapurna-
Manaslu, Nepal. From 182 confirmed snow leopard scats, 81 were identified as belonging
to 34 individuals; the remaining were discarded for their low (<0.625) quality index. Using
maximum likelihood based spatial capture recapture analysis, we developed candidate
model sets to test effects of various covariates on density and detection of scats on transects.
The best models described the variation in density as a quadratic function of
elevation and detection as a linear function of topography. The average density estimate of
snow leopards for the area of interest within Nepal was 0.95 (SE 0.19) animals per 100 km2
(0.66e1.41 95% CL) with predicted densities varying between 0.1 and 1.9 in different parts,
thus highlighting the heterogeneity in densities as a function of habitat types. Our density
estimate was low compared to previous estimates from smaller study areas. Probably,
estimates from some of these areas were inflated due to locally high abundances in overlap
zones (hotspots) of neighboring individuals, whose territories probably range far beyond
study area borders. Our results highlight the need for a large-scale approach in snow
leopard monitoring, and we recommend that methodological problems related to spatial
scale are taken into account in future snow leopard research.
Farhadinia, M. S., Maheshwari, A., Nawaz, M. A., Ambarli, H., Gritsina, M. A., Koshkin, M. A., Rosen, T., Hinsley, A., Macdonald, D. W. (2019). Belt and Road Initiative may create new supplies for illegal wildlife trade in large carnivores.
Farrington, J., Tsering, D. (2019). Human-snow leopard conflict in the Chang Tang region of Tibet, China. Biological Conservation, 237, 504–513.
Abstract: In April 2006, the authors conducted a preliminary human-wildlife conflict survey of 300 livestock herders in Shainza, Nyima, and Tsonyi Counties in northern Tibet's sparsely-populated Chang Tang region. This survey revealed a widespread but previously undocumented problem of snow leopard predation on livestock. In June and July 2007, an exploratory human-snow leopard conflict survey of 234 herders in the above counties found that 65.8% of respondents had experienced conflict with snow leopards in the form of livestock kills, with 77.3% of the most recent incidents occurring in the previous five years. These incidents were concentrated in winter and spring and a surprising 39.6% of incidents occurred during the day, often with herders present. Fifteen exploratory snow leopard sign transects totaling 14.85 km were conducted. Abundant snow leopard scrapes as well as pug marks were found, confirming the presence of these secretive cats. A total of 521 blue sheep were counted on and off sign transects indicating widespread availability of wild snow leopard prey. The recent surge in reported snow leopard conflict is likely due to increasing human and livestock populations, establishment of two multiple-use nature reserves accompanied by improved enforcement of wildlife protection laws, and a regional gun and trap ban launched in 2001. However, retaliatory killing of snow leopards in the survey area continues to be a potential threat. Therefore, measures are needed to reduce livestock kills by snow leopards, including corral improvements, improved guarding, establishment of livestock compensation schemes, and educating herders about snow leopard behavior.
Hanson, J. H., Schutgens, M., Leader-Williams, N. (2019). What factors best explain attitudes to snow leopards in the Nepal Himalayas? PLoS ONE, , 1–19.
Abstract: The snow leopard Panthera uncia is a vulnerable wild felid native to mountainous regions of 12 Asian countries. It faces numerous overlapping threats, including killings by herders retaliating against livestock losses, the illegal wildlife trade, loss of prey and habitat, infra- structure, energy and mining developments, and climate change. The species ranges over large territories that often lie outside of protected areas (PA), so coexistence with human populations across its range is key to its persistence. Human attitudes to snow leopards may be an important factor to consider in reducing overlapping threats to this species. How- ever, this nexus has not been widely studied to date. Attitudes to snow leopard conserva- tion, including actors and interventions, may also be a significant aspect of coexistence. These have also received limited empirical attention. This study therefore explored human attitudes to snow leopards and to snow leopard conservation, the motivations for these atti- tudes and the individual factors that best explained them. Using systematic sampling, a quantitative questionnaire was administered to 705 households at two sites in the Nepal Himalayas: Sagarmatha National Park, with a less decentralised governance model, and Annapurna Conservation Area, with a more decentralised model. Linear regression models were the main form of analysis. Based on these, attitudes to snow leopard conservation emerged as the strongest influence on local attitudes to snow leopards, and vice versa. This was true in both PAs, despite their differing management regimes. Other important explana- tory factors included numbers of livestock owned, years of education, household livelihoods and age. Furthermore, a positive intrinsic motivation was the most common reason given by respondents to explain their attitudes to both snow leopards and snow leopard conservation. These findings demonstrate that, in addition to the usual suite of factors that influence atti- tudes to a species, the way in which its conservation is pursued and perceived also needs consideration. How the snow leopard is conserved may strongly influence its coexistence with local communities.
Jamtsho, Y., Katel, O. (2019). Livestock depredation by snow leopard and Tibetan wolf: Implications for herders� livelihoods in Wangchuck Centennial National Park, Bhutan. Springer Open, (9:1), 1–10.
Abstract: Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) is a serious problem in many parts of the world, and Bhutan�s Wangchuck Centennial
National Park (WCNP) is no exception. Located in the remote alpine areas of the eastern Himalaya, wildlife species
such as snow leopard (SL) and Tibetan wolf (TW) are reported to kill livestock in many parts of the Park. Such
depredation is believed to have affected the livelihoods of high-altitude herding communities, resulting in conflicts
between them. This study provides analysis on the extent of livestock depredation by wildlife predators such as SL
and TW and examines its implications for the livelihoods of herding communities of Choekhortoe and Dhur regions
of WCNP. Using semi-structured questionnaires, all herders (n = 38) in the study area were interviewed. The questions
pertained to livestock population, frequency of depredation and income lost due to depredation in the last five years
from 2012 to 2016. This study recorded 2,815 livestock heads in the study area, with an average herd size of 74.1 stock.
The average herd size holding showed a decreasing trend over the years, and one of the reasons cited by the herders
is depredation by SL and TW and other predators. This loss equated to an average annual financial loss equivalent to
10.2% (US$837) of their total per capita cash income. Such losses have resulted in negative impacts on herders�
livelihood; e.g. six herders (2012-2016) even stopped rearing livestock and resorted to an alternate source of cash
income. The livestock intensification programmes, including pasture improvement through allowing controlled
burning, and financial compensation, may be some potential short-term solutions to reduce conflict between herders
and predators. Issuing permits for cordyceps (Ophiocordyceps sinensis) collection only to the herders and instilling the
sense of stewardship to highland herders may be one of the long-term solutions.
Janjua, S., Peters, J. L., Weckworth, B., Abbas, F. I., Bahn, Volker, Johansson, O., Rooney, T.P. (2019). Improving our conservation genetic toolkit: ddRAD-seq for SNPs in snow leopards. Conservation Genetic Resource, .
Abstract: Snow leopards (Panthera uncia) are an enigmatic, high-altitude species whose challenging habitat, low population densities
and patchy distribution have presented challenges for scientists studying its biology, population structure, and genetics.
Molecular scatology brings a new hope for conservation efforts by providing valuable insights about snow leopards, including
their distribution, population densities, connectivity, habitat use, and population structure for assigning conservation units.
However, traditional amplification of microsatellites from non-invasive sources of DNA are accompanied by significant
genotyping errors due to low DNA yield and poor quality. These errors can lead to incorrect inferences in the number of
individuals and estimates of genetic diversity. Next generation technologies have revolutionized the depth of information
we can get from a species' genome. Here we used double digest restriction-site associated DNA sequencing (ddRAD-seq),
a well-established technique for studying non-model organisms, to develop a reference sequence library for snow leopards
using blood samples from five Mongolian individuals. Our final data set reveals 4504 loci with a median size range of 221 bp.
We identified 697 SNPs and low nucleotide diversity (0.00032) within these loci. However, the probability that two random
individuals will share identical genotypes is about 10-168. We developed probes for DNA capture using this sequence library
which can now be used for genotyping individuals from scat samples. Genetic data from ddRAD-seq will be invaluable for
conducting population and landscape scale studies that can inform snow leopard conservation strategies.
Kalashnikova, Y. A., Karnaukhov, A. S., Dubinin, M. Y., Poyarkov, A. D., Rozhnov, V. V. (2019). POTENTIAL HABITAT OF SNOW LEOPARD (PANTHERA UNCIA, FELINAE) IN SOUTH SIBERIA AND ADJACENT TERRITORIES BASED ON THE MAXIMUM ENTROPY DISTRIBUTION MODEL.98(3), 332–342.
Abstract: The snow leopard is an endangered large felid inhabiting highlands of 12 Asian countries. It is distributed
across vast territories and adequate modern methods are required for mapping its potential habitats. The goal
of the present study is to create a model of snow leopard potential habitat within the northern part of its range
in Russia (and adjacent territories of Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan). More than 5 years of observations
(total number of presence points = 449), environmental variables and the maximum entropy distribution
method (Maxent) are used. The resulting map demonstrates that a suitable habitat (probability of the animal�s
presence between 0.5 and 1) of the northern population of snow leopard in Russia occupies 16500 km2
with a buffer of transient territories (probability between 0.25 and 0.49) covering 32800 km2. Most of a suitable
habitat within the study area is associated with the Altai Mountains, Western Sayan Mountains, Sangilen
Plateau, Tsagan-Shibetu and Shapshal. One third of the suitable habitat lies within areas of a varying protection
status. The results of modeling are of importance both for scientists and conservation managers, as they
allow for leopard occurrence to be predicted, supporting research on and the conservation of the species.
Li, J., Weckworth, B. V., McCarthy, T. M., Liang, X., Liu, Y., Xing, R., Li, D., Zhang, Y., Xue, Y., Jackson, R., Xiao, L., Cheng, C., Li, S., Xu, F., Ma, M., Yang, X., Diao, K., Gao, Y., Song, D., Nowell, K., He, B., Li, Y., McCarthy, K., Paltsyn, M. Y., Sharma, K., Mishra, C., Schaller, G. B., Lu, Z., Beissinger, S. R. (2019). Defining priorities for global snow leopard conservation landscapes. Biological Conservation, 241(108387), 1–10.
Abstract: The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is an apex predator on the Tibetan Plateau and in the surrounding mountain ranges. It is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN's Red List. The large home range and low population densities of this species mandate range-wide conservation prioritization. Two efforts for range-wide snow leopard conservation planning have been conducted based on expert opinion, but both were constrained by limited knowledge and the difficulty of evaluating complex processes, such as connectivity across large landscapes. Here, we compile > 6000 snow leopard occurrence records from across its range and corresponding environmental covariates to build a model of global snow leopard habitat suitability. Using spatial prioritization tools, we identi!ed seven large continuous habitat patches as global snow leopard Landscape Conservation Units (LCUs). Each LCU faces differing threat levels from poaching, anthropogenic development, and climate change. We identi!ed ten po- tential inter-LCU linkages, and centrality analysis indicated that Tianshan-Pamir-Hindu Kush-Karakorum, Altai, and the linkage between them play a critical role in maintaining the global snow leopard habitat connectivity.