Module 14: Snow Leopard Encounters

October 6th, 13th & 20th, 2021
18:00-20:00 Bishkek time

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 instances 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 and promote the long term coexistence of people and snow leopards still need to be more widely known, shared and put into practice. 

The aim of this course is to provide hands-on guidance to help plan ahead for such situations and help resolve potential conflict situations without posing avoidable risk to humans or animals. This module brings together recent experiences from across the range and from multiple organisations to share good practices and discuss pros and cons of different ways of responding to such encounters, including approaches to minimising livestock depredation. 

The Bishkek Declaration 2017, endorsed by the 12 snow leopard range countries, recognises that threats to snow leopards are on the rise and that there is a need to develop policies and build capacity at multiple levels. This initiative, focussing on sharing experiences and building capacity for managing snow leopards in unusual or conflict situations, hopes to contribute toward this goal. This module is being organised in coordination with thanks to the support of the GSLEP Program Secretariat. We also thank the Snow Leopard Conservancy, Snow Leopard Trust, Snow Leopard Foundation Pakistan, Nature Conservation Foundation for contributing to this module.

Photo by Behzad Larry

About the course

Session 1: Recommendations on how to manage unusual snow leopard encounters

In 2020 the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Program (GSLEP) developed a policy brief on managing snow leopards in unusual or conflict situations. The guidelines in the policy brief are based on the most up-to-date information and scientific evidence. During this session the authors will outline the recommendations for how to manage snow leopards killing livestock in the pastures, killing livestock in corrals and when an injured snow leopard or cubs are encountered. The authors will also share information on how to handle situations where snow leopards have been caught by villagers after attacking livestock as well as possible means to handle snow leopards that repeatedly attack the same corral. 

Session 2: Strategies for minimising snow leopard depredation

The Snow Leopard Conservancy and Snow Leopard Trust, in collaboration with other organisations and governments have developed a number of livestock depredation mitigation tools. During this session the team will share experiences in applying these tools and working with communities, with the goal of addressing root causes leading to depredation and measures that maximise community acceptance. We will also discuss approaches for cost-sharing and ongoing adaptive monitoring and management. The Session will be an opportunity to discuss a range of different techniques and engagement mechanisms and to learn from participants on what tools are being used in their areas and can be improved.

Session 3: Shared practices from across the snow leopard range 

A series of case studies from India, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Pakistan gives unique insights on how encounters take place and vary. While the principles of responding to encounters are set out, understanding local context is vital for tailoring any effective responses. This includes looking at the different stakeholders involved, their interests and histories as well as local beliefs and policies in place. This session will showcase how responses have often had to deal with very sensitive issues within an often highly political setting. The session emphasises exchange of experiences and views with the intention of calibrating and grounding the previous session discussions.       

Meet the Resource Team

Ali Nawaz

Ali Nawaz PhD has 20 years of field research experience, spanning over diverse geographical regions in Pakistan, and has 50 scientific articles and over 30 management reports to his credit. His primary focus is on understanding ecology, co-existence, and conservation issues of the carnivore community in northern Pakistan. Dr Nawaz has worked intensively with the mountainous communities in alleviating human-carnivore conflicts and promoting acceptance of large carnivores. 

AJAY BIJOOR

Ajay Bijoor supports conservation efforts in the regions of Ladakh and Spiti valley in India. Over the last eight years, he has worked on setting up, running and monitoring community-conservation efforts in these regions. This effort aims at trying to create conditions conducive for conservation. More recently he has also been facilitating the process of building capacity for community-based conservation in snow leopard range countries. 

orjan johansson

Orjan Johansson PhD is a member of SLN’s Steering Committee. He is a senior conservation scientist at the Snow Leopard Trust and has worked with snow leopards since 2008. He is based at Grimso wildlife research station in Sweden and has previously worked with several other large carnivores including mountain lions, wolves, lynx and wolverines. His research evolves mainly around snow leopard ecology and behaviour. Orjan devotes a lot of his time to a snow leopard study in Tost Mountains, Mongolia.

ranjini murali

Ranjini Murali PhD has over ten years of experience working in snow leopard landscapes. Her PhD focused on understanding how local communities use and value ecosystem services from these landscapes. She is currently a conservation scientist at the Snow Leopard Trust and is an international staff on the GSLEP secretariat. As a part of her role she helps coordinate the effort and manage the database on unusual encounters for GSLEP.

 

shafqat hussain

Shafqat Hussain, PhD Founder of Project Snow Leopard, now part of the Baltistan Wildlife Conservation Development Organization (BWCDO) of which he is the Board Chair. Shafqat is a professor of anthropology at Trinity College, Hartford, CT. He is a Rolex Award for Enterprise laureate, a recipient of the United Nations Equator Prize and was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. In December of 2019 he published the book The Snow Leopard  and the Goat: Politics of Conservation in the Western Himalayas.

 

DEEPSHIKHA SHARMA

Deepshikha Sharma is a conservation practitioner with the Nature Conservation Foundation, India. For the past 2 years, she has been working alongside local communities to conserve snow leopard habitat. She is building volunteer networks in the landscape to create awareness and strengthen conservation action.

 

 

rodney jackson

Rodney Jackson PhD is a renowned snow leopard researcher and conservationist who led the first radio-collaring study of snow leopards in western Nepal in 1981-1985 that made it to the cover story of the June 1986 National Geographic Magazine. He has published widely, with his accomplishments including leading / co-authoring all IUCN Red Data List evaluations completed to date.  Rodney’s special interests rest with engaging and empowering local communities to address conservation issues, notably livestock depredation and related human-wildlife conflict. He pioneered initiatives at corral predator-proofing, community-based tourism (Himalayan Homestays), camera trapping, non-invasive scat genetics (with Dr. Jan Janecka and associates) and use of drones for censusing prey species. A Founding Member and first Conservation Director of the International Snow Leopard Trust, in 2000, Rodney co-founded the Snow Leopard Conservancy (SLC), followed by the SLC-India Trust (now an independent NGO). He received a Masters degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1970, and his PhD from the University of London in 1996. A Rolex Award for Enterprise Laureate, Rodney is widely recognized internationally and within snow leopard range countries for his 40 year + commitment to furthering conservation of this iconic species.  (www.SnowLeopardConservancy.org).

 

KOUSTUBH SHARMA

Koustubh Sharma PhD has been involved in active research and conservation since 2001. He has been working with the Snow Leopard Trust since 2007, and currently serves as the Assistant Director of Conservation Policy and Partnerships. Since 2014, he is deputed as the International Coordinator of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystems Protection Program (GSLEP) at its secretariat in Bishkek. At the GSLEP Program, Koustubh works with a small team with support from international organizations to coordinate this unique alliance that brings together governments of the 12 snow leopard range countries, Non-Government Organizations and Conservationists. At the Snow Leopard Trust, he assists in implementing research, conservation, training and building collaborations across several countries.

Photo by Snow Leopard Conservancy

Date/Time

    • Wednesdays October 6th, 13th, 20th 2021: 18:00-20:00 Bishkek time

Planned Schedule

    • 2 hour online Zoom Seminars take place Wednesday of the month, October 2021
    • Additional group work, assignments or readings are likely to be organised by the trainers
    • Please note we expect all participants to attend the complete set of Wednesday Seminars as they are interconnected and build on each other
    • Details of each specific Seminar topic will be shared approximately 5 days beforehand; including any expected preparations by participants.
    • Please note that all sessions are recorded and then made available online through the SLN youtube channel. By participating in these online sessions you automatically agree to authorise recording of audio and visual content presented during the live event and consent to subsequent use of the recording in the public domain by SLN. If you have any concerns please contact us. 

Deadline for Applications

  • September 29th, 2021. Please note places are limited so please do
    not delay in applying.
  • Applications closed- Contact Rakhee if you are interested to attend.
Photo by Snow Leopard Conservancy

Announcing ‘Snow Leopard NEWS’!

The Snow Leopard Network (SLN) is a worldwide network dedicated to facilitating the exchange of information and insights around snow leopards. It strives to “link up to scale up” efforts and thereby enhance the impact of snow leopard conservation investments. 

Very much in this ethos, SLN is excited to announce an annual ‘open-access’ newsletter entitled ‘Snow Leopard NEWS’. Through a series of short notes and research contributions, the aim of the newsletter is to collate and make available the latest information on snow leopard ecology and conservation. Its ambit includes not only the snow leopard, but also its prey and carnivores that share the landscape with this majestic cat. Snow Leopard NEWS is also committed to featuring innovative conservation practices and policies which address threats impacting snow leopard habitats. Snow Leopard NEWS is especially committed to showcasing work that is undertaken by conservation practitioners at different levels across the snow leopard landscapes.

Three types of contributions are welcome: Field Notes, Short Notes and Notes from the Conservation Frontline. You can find more about each of these categories and the submission process here. Contributions will be finalized by an editorial team using a peer-review process. Snow Leopard NEWS will be published once a year, but ‘early view articles’ will be published online at an earlier date.

The call for Snow Leopard NEWS is now open: for the period June 1st 2021 – December 1st 2021. The first issue is expected to be out in the first half of 2022.

We are thrilled with this endeavor and we sincerely hope this will allow for greater collaboration, communication and sharing of knowledge feeding into stronger and more effective conservation efforts in the field. Do feel that Snow Leopard NEWS is where you can share latest ideas and developments from your and colleagues work. We are excited to see your contributions!

Visit our website for more information: www.snowleopardnetwork.org/snow-leopard-news/

Snow Leopard Individual Identification- Increasing precision in camera-trap abundance estimates?

SLN welcomes its Steering Committee member Orjan Johansson who introduces a recent publication on the scope of potential mis-identifications errors in camera trap data processing. He also shares the latest thinking on investigating this challenge further.

Orjan is joined by Abinand Reddy, David Borchers, Justine Shanti Alexander, Koustubh Sharma, Manvi Sharma and Paul van Dam-Bates as Panelists. Each panelist share their experiences and insights on snow leopard camera trapping and the tools that are being developed to address concerns with individual identification. We hope that this workshop will help share good practices and recommendations for improving individual identification.  

This Webinar is offered thanks to GSLEP‘s support. Find out more about the Workshop and the Speakers HERE.

Module 12: Fundamental Statistical Tools

About the course

A good working knowledge of statistics can help you achieve better study designs, choose the correct analytical framework, and present your results in a meaningful way. In conservation, statistics is crucial for making decisions and predictions based on data. Module 12 aims to provide an understanding of fundamental statistical tools, and how to implement them in the widely used R software. All sessions include practical exercises that will help you become familiar with the R language.

    • Session 1

All statistical endeavours start with data. In this session, you will learn how to import your data into the R environment. This will be the perfect opportunity for you to become familiar with the R language, as well as with its basic commands. You will learn about data types most commonly used by ecologists, and the basics of descriptive statistics.

    • Session 2

In this session, we explore in more details the fundamentals of statistical theory. Using built-in datasets in R, you will learn how to identify methods that are most appropriate depending on the data you are working with, as well as essential principles of hypothesis testing.

    • Session 3

Using what we learned in the previous two sessions, we will work through all essential steps involved in data analysis, with a focus on linear regression. This includes the formulation of a hypothesis, data preparation and visualisation, statistical testing, and finally, results interpretation. We will complete two full practical exercises in R using built-in datasets. At the end of this session, you will be split into different groups in order to carry out one final analysis, which will be presented the week after.

    • Session 4

This session will start with presentation of results from the last analysis (see Session 3). The rest of the session will be dedicated to identifying and avoiding common mistakes in data analysis. This will allow us to also discuss issues related to results interpretation, which is essential in the field of conservation science when results may directly inform conservation planning.

Skills you will gain

    • How to organise your data
    • Hypothesis testing
    • Linear regression
    • Interpretation of results
    • How to avoid common mistakes

Meet the Resource Team

Anne Heloise Theo is a marine ecologist working on community ecology and behaviour of reef fish. She is currently a PhD student in the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science.

Guillaume Demare is a PhD candidate at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Germany. His research currently focuses on the community ecology of West African amphibians.

Date/Time

  • Thursdays June 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th 2021
  • 14:00-16:30 Bishkek time (2.5 hour)

Criteria for participation

  • Snow Leopard Network Member
  • Confirmed availability to attend all the four online seminars of a given module
  • Number of participants is limited to 25

Planned Schedule

  • 2.5 hour online Zoom Seminars take place Thursday of the month, June 2021 at 14:00 Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan time.
  • Additional group work, assignments or readings are likely to be organized by the trainers
  • Please note we expect all participants to attend the complete set of Thursday Seminars as they are interconnected and build on each other
  • Details of each specific Seminar topic will be shared approximately 5 days beforehand; including any expected preparations by participants.
  • Please note that all sessions are recorded and then made available online through the SLN youtube channel. By participating in these online sessions you automatically agree to authorise recording of audio and visual content presented during the live event and consent to subsequent use of the recording in the public domain by SLN. If you have any concerns please contact us. 

Deadline for Applications

  • May 26th, 2021. Please note places are limited so please do
    not delay in applying.
  • Applications Closed

 

SLN Workshop: Snow Leopard Individual Identification- Increasing precision in camera-trap abundance estimates?

Identifying snow leopards by their spot patterns is crucial for assessing their populations. However snow leopards can be misidentified. Current analytical frameworks, such as the spatial capture recapture or the now retired (conventional) capture recapture methods, assume full confidence in the individual ID data being used for analysis. Misidentifying individuals can thus bias snow leopard abundance estimates depending on the type of misidentification error. Teams across the snow leopard range and world are working to find approaches that address these limitations. 

This workshop aims to highlight how errors in snow leopard identification is a concern and ways that such errors can be minimised. This will include the presentation of recommendations to improve individual identification from camera trap images. We will also  cover on-going and future developments in statistical ecology that could address this uncertainty analytically.

SLN welcomes its Steering Committee member Orjan Johansson who will introduce a recent publication on the scope of potential mis identifications errors in camera trap data processing. He will also share the latest thinking on investigating this challenge further. Orjan will be joined by Abinand Reddy, David Borchers, Justine Shanti Alexander, Koustubh Sharma, Manvi Sharma and Paul van Dam-Bates as Panelists. Each panelist will share their experiences and insights on snow leopard camera trapping and the tools that are being developed to address concerns with individual identification. We hope that this workshop will help share good practices and recommendations for improving individual identification.  

About the Workshop

Reliable assessments of snow leopard populations are key for their conservation. A recent paper (Johansson et al. 2020) points to frequent errors in identifying individuals and highlights how even small errors can inflate population abundance estimates.

Snow leopards can be misidentified as their spot patterns may not be easily recognized when their thick fur gets ruffled or when their body is photographed at different angles. Identification becomes even more difficult with blurry images associated with slow shutter speeds in low light or an animal’s rapid movements. A large number of photographs of different individuals can also lead to observer fatigue and subsequent errors in the identification process. Johansson et al. (2020) reported that observers tended to identify more individuals than were actually captured leading to inflated estimates. Current Capture Recapture models assume complete accuracy in the identification of individuals. These methods estimate the probability with which some individuals may never get captured during a camera trapping exercise and this allows reliable and replicable estimates of the population being surveyed. However misidentifying individuals can bias abundance estimates depending on the type of misidentification error. Improving the individual identification of snow leopards with artificial intelligence, and building uncertainties in the identification process into later statistical models, are both challenges that are at the cutting edge of research efforts. It is necessary to minimize the misidentification of animals through careful scrutiny, transparent reporting, and skills development and assessment. 

The workshop aims to outline a few tools and recommendations. Orjan will start with presenting the key findings from the study and highlight possible sources of error and what to look out for. Our guest Panelists will then share recommendations for reducing errors and introduce analytical approaches that may help support teams. We will then open the discussion for ways to improve camera-trapping surveys. 

About our Guests

Abinand Reddy is a PhD student at the Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling, St Andrews. He is interested in developing and applying quantitative methods to inform conservation. His PhD research currently revolves around extending SCR models for better estimates of snow leopard densities.

David Borchers is a distinguished academic  at the University of St Andrews, with more than 30 years experience developing and applying statistical methods to address problems in ecology. His current main research interests focus on spatial capture-recapture and related methods.

Justine Shanti Alexander is the Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Network and the Regional Ecologist for the Snow Leopard Trust. She supports snow leopard research and conservation work across China, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and India. She also provides technical and coordination support to the GSLEP PAWS effort across range countries.

Koustubh Sharma is the International Coordinator of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP) and a Senior Regional Ecologist at the Snow Leopard Trust. With nearly 20 years of experience in ecological research, wildlife conservation and training, he helps build collaborations and coordinate alliances and at multiple levels for snow leopard research and conservation.

Manvi Sharma is a Research Associate with the Nature Conservation Foundation, India. Her research interests include behavioral ecology, population ecology, and evolutionary ecology. She is working on the project on population assessment of snow leopards and their prey in India.

Orjan Johansson is a senior conservation scientist at the Snow Leopard Trust. His research evolves mainly around snow leopard ecology and behaviour. Orjan devotes a lot of his time to a snow leopard study in Mongolia. 

Paul van Dam-Bates is a PhD student in statistics at the University of St Andrews working with David Borchers and Michail Papathomas on latent ID spatial capture-recapture methods for camera traps and acoustic recorders. Prior to this, Paul did a masters in statistics at the University of Victoria, worked as a statistician for the Department of Conservation in New Zealand and was a statistical consultant for Ecofish Research Ltd.

Date/Time

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021; 14:00-15:15 Bishkek time (1h15min)

Location

ZOOM, to join this talk,  REGISTER HERE

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. 

Session 2: The Photographic Image, Ethics & Storytelling

Module 10

Behzad Larry has spent many years travelling across the snow leopard range capturing the stories of snow leopard individuals and communities. During this session he shares perspectives about using images (of snow leopards, people and landscapes) in communication and raise for discussion a number of very pertinent issues for snow leopard conservation- especially in the world where the image of the snow leopard is becoming so important! 
The session ends with a discussion led by Joanna Van Gruisen on ethics and examples of how conservationists can work towards putting in place safeguards and promoting good practices in the use of images for conservation communication- with a photographers manifesto.  

Session 2.1: The snow leopard image

Session 2.2: The community in images

Session 2.3: The landscape in images

Session 2.4: Photography and ethics

Session 2.5: The Photographer’s Manifesto

Session 3: Communications & Advocacy

Module 10

During Session 3 we explore Communication and Advocacy; how do we move from creating awareness, will to action- and see the change we want! We are pleased to welcome Koustubh Sharma and Matthias Fiechter  for this engaging Session. We also dive into how to use social media as a tool for communication and advocacy. 

Session 3.1: Introduction to Communication and Advocacy

3.2: Snow Leopard Partnerships with private sector & campaign Examples

Session 3.3: Social Media and Communication

Module 11: PARTNERS Monitoring and Evaluation 

About the module

Monitoring and Evaluation is a critical part of community conservation programs. It is necessary to identify and address any implementation challenges. It can also ensure that conservation programs are improved as required in response to changing threats and opportunities at the local level.

This module will focus on introducing participants to participatory approaches in monitoring and evaluation of community conservation programs. It will cover core terms, principles and approaches to M&E that are important foundations of conservation program planning and implementation. How can M&E be incorporated into conservation programs in a way that supports community ownership and engagement? 

We will draw on a set of principles and guidelines for community-based conservation, called the ‘PARTNERS principles’, which have been developed based on the extensive experience of snow leopard conservation practitioners. The team will showcase participatory techniques for M&E from snow leopard and wider landscapes across the world. These sessions will build on Module 3 and Module 7 offered in 2020. An optional session will include a “workshop” style approach where the team works through planning a monitoring or evaluation method for real world examples from the snow leopard range. 

This module is offered thanks to the partnership with France’s National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment and the Snow Leopard Trust.   

A livestock owner in Ladakh, India, who partnered with the Nature Conservation Foundation to build a predator-proof corral. Photo: Snow Leopard Trust

Dates/time of module

  • Wednesdays May 5th, 12th, 19th 2021
  • 14:00-16:00 Bishkek time

Module Outline

  • Session 1: Introduction to Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Session 2: Community Conservation & Monitoring
  • Session 3: Participatory Approaches to Evaluation 

Meet the Resource Team

Ajay Bijoor supports conservation efforts in the regions of Ladakh and Spiti valley in India. Over the last eight years, he has worked on setting up, running and monitoring community-conservation efforts in these regions. This effort aims at trying to create conditions conducive for conservation. More recently he has also been facilitating the process of building capacity for community-based conservation in snow leopard range countries.  

James Butler is currently running a program entitled ‘Knowledge brokering for Pacific climate futures’, which is designing participatory approaches to encourage the emergence of knowledge brokers, and then mechanisms to support them. Previously James has worked in resource conflict situations in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Zimbabwe and Scotland.

Juliette Young is a senior researcher at INRAE (France’s National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment) where she studies the human dimensions of biodiversity conservation. Much of her work focuses on the role of different actors, especially decision-makers and local communities, in the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity. She has been working with the Snow Leopard Trust since 2016 on training in community-based conservation.

Justine Shanti Alexander is the Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Network. She provides support to the evaluation of the efficiency and effectiveness of community conservation initiatives to partners across the snow leopard range. Justine also acts as the Regional Ecologist for the Snow Leopard Trust and supports research and conservation work across China, Mongolia, Pakistan, India and Pakistan.

Criteria for participation

  • Snow Leopard Network Member
  • Confirmed availability to attend all the four online seminars of a given module
  • Number of participants is limited to 25

Planned Schedule

  • 2 hour online Zoom Seminars take place Wednesdays of the month, May 2021 at 14:00 Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan time.
  • Additional group work, assignments or readings are likely to be organized by the trainers
  • Please note we expect all participants to attend the complete set of Wednesday Seminars as they are interconnected and build on each other
  • Details of each specific Seminar topic will be shared approximately 5 days beforehand; including any expected preparations by participants.
  • Please note that all sessions are recorded and then made available online through the SLN youtube channel. By participating in these online sessions you automatically agree to authorise recording of audio and visual content presented during the live event and consent to subsequent use of the recording in the public domain by SLN. If you have any concerns please contact us. 

Deadline for Applications

  • April 25th, 2021. Please note places are limited so please do
    not delay in applying.
  • Applications Closed

Session 4: Conservation Optimism

Conservation Optimism

The study of environmental bright spots (i.e., “instances where science has successfully influenced policy and practice”) can be a crucial tool to help humanity navigate the current environmental challenges it is facing (Cvitanovic & Hobday 2018).

Conservation Optimism‘s mission is to empower researchers and organisations to tell these stories of conservation optimism — large and small — so as to inspire change.

Session 4 of Module 1o

In Session 4 of Module 10, you will get practical tips from the Conservation Optimism team on how to craft your messages using a solutions lens!

They will take you on a deep dive into their Positive Communication Toolkit and will help you identify and avoid the most common communication traps so that you develop solutions-based content in a range of formats. 

Session 4.1: Communication Optimism

Session 4.2: Optimism Exercises