New Article to the Bibliography

 

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Title: Community-Based Conservation for the Sustainable Management of Conservation Conflicts: Learning from Practitioners

Authors: Young, J. C., Alexander, J. S., Bijoor, A., Sharma, D., Dutta, A., Agvaantseren, B., Mijiddorj, T. N., Jumabay, K., Amankul, V., Kabaeva, B., Nawaz, A., Khan, S., Ali, H., Rullman, J. S., Sharma, K., Murali, R., Mishra, C.

Abstract:  We explore the role of community-based conservation (CBC) in the sustainable management of conservation conflicts by examining the experiences of conservation practitioners trying to address conflicts between snow leopard conservation and pastoralism in Asian mountains. Practitioner experiences are examined through the lens of the PARTNERS principles for CBC (Presence, Aptness, Respect, Transparency, Negotiation, Empathy, Responsiveness, and Strategic Support) that represent an inclusive conservation framework for effective and ethical engagement with local communities. Case studies from India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, and Pakistan show that resilient relationships arising from respectful engagement and negotiation with local communities can provide a strong platform for robust conflict management. We highlight the heuristic value of documenting practitioner experiences in on-the-ground conflict management and community-based conservation efforts.

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New Article to the Bibliography

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Title: Factors affecting livestock depredation by snow leopards (Panthera uncia) in the Himalayan region of Nepal

Authors: Karki, A., Panthi, S.

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.

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New Article to the Bibliography

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Title:  Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) Genetics: The Knowledge Gaps, Needs, and Implications for Conservation
Author: Weckworth, B.
 

Abstract:  Conservation geneticists apply genetic theory and techniques to preserve endangered species as dynamic entities, capable of coping with environmental change and thus minimizing their risk of extinction. Snow leopards are an umbrella species of High Asia, and a keystone for maintaining biodiversity within this fragile ecosystem. A clear understanding of patterns of snow leopard genetic diversity is critical for guiding conservation initiatives that will ensure their long-term persistence. Yet, a comprehensive analysis of snow leopard genetic variation is lacking. The number of published snow leopard genetic studies is far fewer than for other imperiled big cats. Here, I review the limited genetic work to date on snow leopards and the significant knowledge gaps to be filled. An emphasis must be placed on describing and understanding population genetic dynamics within and among meta-populations to provide information about the interactions between landscapes and the micro-evolutionary processes of gene flow and genetic drift. These results can be used to evaluate the levels and dynamics of genetic and demographic connectivity. A lack of connectivity, particularly in the low density, small populations that typify snow leopards, can lead to multiple demographic and genetic consequences, including inbreeding depression, loss of adaptive potential, and heightened susceptibility to demographic and environmental stochasticity. New efforts in conservation research on snow leopards should focus on this line of inquiry, and the opportunities and challenges for that are outlined and discussed to encourage the required, and considerable, transboundary partnerships and collaborations needed to be successful.

New Article to the Bibliography

There is an interesting article written in the British Journal for the History of Science on the development of snow leopard science and conservation in India and China. This is a part of a special issue on science in India and China (2016).

 
Title: Studying the snow leopard: reconceptualizing conservation across the China–India border
 
Authors: Lewis, M., Songster, E.E.
 
Abstract:  The snow leopard is a highly charismatic megafauna that elicits admiration, concern and donations from individuals and NGOs in the West. In its home territories, however, it is a threat to local communities’ livestock and a potential source of income for its pelt and parts. Conservation and study are further challenged by its range; snow leopards traverse the borders separating China, India and ten other countries with long histories of tension with each other as well as internal political and economic struggles. This transnational animal provides an ideal case study for the consideration of transnational conservation science in the recent past.
 

New Articles to the Bibliography

 

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Title: Assessing the Effectiveness of a Community-based Livestock Insurance Program

Authors: Alexander, J. S., Agvaantseren, B., Gongor, E., Mijiddorj, T. N., Piaopiao, T., Stephen Redpath, S., Young, J., Mishra, C.

 
Abstract:  Financial mechanisms to mitigate the costs of negative human–carnivore interactions are frequently promoted to support human coexistence with carnivores. Yet, evidence to support their performance in different settings is scarce. We evaluated a community-based livestock insurance program implemented as part of a broader snow leopard conservation effort in the Tost Tosonbumba Nature Reserve, South Gobi, Mongolia. We assessed program ef!ciency and effectiveness for snow leopard conservation using a results-based evaluation approach. Data sources included program records from 2009 to 2018, as well as surveys conducted in 2016 and 2017, which allowed us to compare key indicators across communities that participated in the insurance program and control communities. Program coverage and number of livestock insured rapidly increased over the years to reach 65% of households and close to 11,000 livestock. Participants expressed satisfaction with the program and their contributions increased over time, with an increasing proportion (reaching 64% in 2018) originating from participant premiums, suggesting strong community ownership of the program. Participants were less likely to report the intention to kill a snow leopard and reported fewer livestock losses than respondents from control communities, suggesting increased engagement in conservation efforts. These results together suggest that the insurance program achieved its expected objectives, although it is challenging to disentangle the contributions of each individual conservation intervention implemented in intervention communities. However, in the !rst three years of the program, snow leopard mortalities continued to be reported suggesting that additional interventions were needed to reach impact in terms of reducing retaliatory killings of large carnivores.

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Title:  Spatial variation in population-density of snow leopards in a multiple use landscape in Spiti Valley, Trans-Himalaya
 
Authors: Sharma, R. K., Sharma, K., Borchers, D., Bhatnagar, Y V., Suryawanshi, K. R., Mishra, C. 

Abstract:  The endangered snow leopard Panthera uncia occurs in human use landscapes in the mountains of South and Central Asia. Conservationists generally agree that snow leopards must be conserved through a land-sharing approach, rather than land-sparing in the form of strictly protected areas. Effective conservation through land-sharing requires a good understanding of how snow leopards respond to human use of the landscape. Snow leopard density is expected to show spatial variation within a landscape because of variation in the intensity of human use and the quality of habitat. However, snow leopards have been difficult to enumerate and monitor. Variation in the density of snow leopards remains undocumented, and the impact of human use on their populations is poorly understood. We examined spatial variation in snow leopard density in Spiti Valley, an important snow leopard landscape in India, via spatially explicit capture-recapture analysis of camera trap data. We camera trapped an area encompassing a minimum convex polygon of 953 km2. Our best model estimated an overall density of 0.5 (95% CI: 0.31–0.82) mature snow leopards per 100 km2. Using AIC, our best model showed the density of snow leopards to depend on estimated wild prey density, movement about activity centres to depend on altitude, and the expected number of encounters at the activity centre to depend on topography. Models that also used livestock biomass as a density covariate ranked second, but the effect of livestock was weak. Our results highlight the importance of maintaining high density pockets of wild prey populations in multiple-use landscapes to enhance snow leopard conservation.

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New Article to the Bibliography

 

 

Title: Large-scale and fine-grain population structure and genetic diversity of snow leopards (Panthera uncia Schreber, 1776) from the northern and western parts of the range with an emphasis on the Russian population.

Authors:  Korablev, M. P., Poyarkov, A. D., Karnaukhov, A. S., Zvychaynaya, E. Y., Kuksin, A. N., Malykh, S. V., Istomov, S. V., Spitsyn, S. V., Aleksandrov, D. Y.,  Hernandez-Blanco, J. A., Munkhtsog, B., Munkhtogtokh, O., Putintsev, N. I., Vereshchagin, A. S., Becmurody, A.,  Afzunov, S., Rozhnov, V. V.

Abstract: The snow leopard (Panthera uncia Schreber, 1776) population in Russia and Mongolia is situated at the northern edge of the range, where instability of ecological conditions and of prey availability may serve as prerequisites for demographic instability and, consequently, for reducing the genetic diversity. Moreover, this northern area of the species distribution is connected with the western and central parts by only a few small fragments of potential habitats in the Tian-Shan spurs in China and Kazakhstan. Given this structure of the range, the restriction of gene flow between the northern and other regions of snow leopard distribution can be expected. Under these conditions, data on population genetics would be extremely important for assessment of genetic diversity, population structure and gene flow both at regional and large-scale level. To investigate large-scale and fine-grain population structure and levels of genetic diversity we analyzed 108 snow leopards identified from noninvasively collected scat samples from Russia and Mongolia (the northern part of the range) as well as from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (the western part of the range) using panel of eight polymorphic microsatellites. We found low to moderate levels of genetic diversity in the studied populations. Among local habitats, the highest heterozygosity and allelic richness were recorded in Kyrgyzstan (He = 0.66 ± 0.03, Ho = 0.70 ± 0.04, Ar = 3.17) whereas the lowest diversity was found in a periphery subpopulation in Buryatia Republic of Russia (He = 0.41 ± 0.12, Ho = 0.29 ± 0.05, Ar = 2.33). In general, snow leopards from the western range exhibit greater genetic diversity (He = 0.68 ± 0.04, Ho = 0.66 ± 0.03, Ar = 4.95) compared to those from the northern range (He = 0.60 ± 0.06, Ho = 0.49 ± 0.02, Ar = 4.45). In addition, we have identified signs of fragmentation in the northern habitat, which have led to significant genetic divergence between subpopulations in Russia. Multiple analyses of genetic structure support considerable genetic differentiation between the northern and western range parts, which may testify to subspecies subdivision of snow leopards from these regions. The observed patterns of genetic structure are evidence for delineation of several management units within the studied populations, requiring individual approaches for conservation initiatives, particularly related to translocation events. The causes for the revealed patterns of genetic structure and levels of genetic diversity are discussed.

URL: https://snowleopardnetwork.org/bibliography/Korablev_et_al_2021.pdf

New Article to the Bibliography

Please find details below, to a new article added to the Bibliography:

Title: Understanding People’s Relationship With Wildlife in Trans-Himalayan Folklore.

Authors: Bhatia, S., Suryawanshi, K., Redpath, S., Namgail, S., Mishra, C.

Abstract:  People’s views and values for wild animals are often a result of their experiences and traditional knowledge. Local folklore represents a resource that can enable an understanding of the nature of human-wildlife interactions, especially the underlying cultural values. Using archival searches and semi-structured interviews, we collected narratives about the ibex (Capra sibirica) (n = 69), and its predators, the wolf (Canis lupus) (n = 52) and the snow leopard (Panthera uncia) (n = 43), in Ladakh, India. We compared these stories to those of a mythical carnivore called seng ge or snow lion (n = 19), frequently referenced in local Tibetan Buddhist folklore and believed to share many of the traits commonly associated with snow leopards (except for livestock depredation). We then categorized the values along social-cultural, ecological and psychological dimensions. We found that the ibex was predominantly associated with utilitarianism and positive symbolism. Both snow leopard and wolf narratives referenced negative affective and negative symbolic values, though more frequently in the case of wolves. Snow leopard narratives largely focused on utilitarian and ecologistic values. In contrast, snow lion narratives were mostly associated with positive symbolism. Our results suggest that especially for snow leopards and wolves, any potentially positive symbolic associations appeared to be overwhelmed by negative sentiments because of their tendency to prey on livestock, unlike in the case of the snow lion. Since these values reflect people’s real and multifarious interactions with wildlife, we recommend paying greater attention to understanding the overlaps between natural and cultural heritage conservation to facilitate human-wildlife coexistence.

URL:https://snowleopardnetwork.org/bibliography/Bhatia_et_al_2021_Folklore_and_values.pdf

New Article to our Bibliography

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Title:  Ecosystem Services in a Snow Leopard Landscape: A Comparative Analysis of Two High-elevation National Parks in the Karakoram-Pamir

Authors:  Din, J. U., Nawaz, M. A., Norma-Rashid, Y., Ahmad, F., Hussain, K., Ali, H., Adli, D., S., H.

Abstract:  The high-elevation mountain ecosystems in the Karakoram and Pamir mountain ranges encompass enchanting landscapes, harbor unique biodiversity, and are home to many indigenous pastoral societies that rely on ecosystem services for their survival. However, our understanding of the value of ecosystem services to a household economy is limited. This information is essential in devising sustainable development strategies and thus merits consideration. In this preliminary study, we attempted to assess and compare the value of selected ecosystem services of the Khunjerab and Qurumbar National Parks (KNP and QNP) in the Karakoram–Pamir in northern Pakistan using market-based and value transfer methods. Our results indicated that the economic benefits derived from the 2 high-elevation protected areas were US$ 4.6 million (QNP) and US$ 3.8 million (KNP) per year, translating into US$ 5955 and US$ 8912 per household per year, respectively. The monetary benefits from provisioning services constituted about 93% in QNP and 48% in KNP, which vividly highlights the prominence of the economic benefits generated from the protected areas for the welfare of disadvantaged communities. Together with the regulatory and cultural services valued in this study, the perceived economic impact per household per year was 10–15 times higher than the mean household income per year. Considering the limited livelihood means and escalating poverty experienced by buffer zone communities, these values are substantial. We anticipate that communities’ dependency on resources will contribute to increased degradation of ecosystems. We propose reducing communities’ dependency on natural resources by promoting sustainable alternative livelihood options and recognizing ecosystem services in cost–benefit analyses when formulating future policies.

URL: https://snowleopardnetwork.org/bibliography/Din_et_al.pdf

New Article to the Bibliography

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Title:  Understanding people’s responses toward predators in the Indian Himalaya

Authors:  Bhatia, S., Suryawanshi, K., Redpath, S. M., Mishra, C

Abstract:  Research on human–wildlife interactions has largely focused on the magnitude of wildlife‐caused damage, and the patterns and correlates of human attitudes and behaviors. We assessed the role of five pathways through which various correlates potentially influence human responses toward wild animals, namely, value orientation, social interactions (i.e. social cohesion and support), dependence on resources such as agriculture and livestock, risk perception and nature of interaction with the wild animal. We specifically evaluated their influence on people’s responses toward two large carnivores, the snow leopard Panthera uncia and the wolf Canis lupus in an agropastoral landscape in the Indian Trans‐Himalaya. We found that the nature of the interaction (location, impact and length of time since an encounter or depredation event), and risk perception (cognitive and affective evaluation of the threat posed by the animal) had a significant influence on attitudes and behaviors toward the snow leopard. For wolves, risk perception and social interactions (the relationship of people with local institutions and inter‐community dynamics) were significant. Our findings underscore the importance of interventions that reduce people’s threat perceptions from carnivores, improve their connection with nature and strengthen the conservation capacity of local institutions especially in the context of wolves.

 
 

New Article to the Bibliography

Please see details below, of a new article added to our Bibliography:
Title: Predicting Habitat Suitability of Snow Leopards in the Western Himalayan Mountains, India


Authors: Singh, R., Krausman, P. R., Pandey, P., Maheshwari, A., Rawal, R. S., Sharma, S., Shekhar, S.Abstract:  The population of snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is declining across their range, due to poaching, habitat fragmentation, retaliatory killing, and a decrease of wild prey species. Obtaining information on rare and cryptic predators living in remote and rugged terrain is important for making conservation and management strategies. We used the Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt) ecological niche modeling framework to predict the potential habitat of snow leopards across the western Himalayan region, India. The model was developed using 34 spatial species occurrence points in the western Himalaya, and 26 parameters including, prey species distribution, temperature, precipitation, land use and land cover (LULC), slope, aspect, terrain ruggedness and altitude. Thirteen variables contributed 98.6% towards predicting the distribution of snow leopards. The area under the curve (AUC) score was high (0.994) for the training data from our model, which indicates pre- dictive ability of the model. The model predicted that there was 42432 km2 of potential habitat for snow leop- ards in the western Himalaya region. Protected status was available for 11247 km2 (26.5%), but the other 31185 km2 (73.5%) of potential habitat did not have any protected status. Thus, our approach is useful for predicting the distribution and suitable habitats and can focus field surveys in selected areas to save resources, increase survey success, and improve conservation efforts for snow leopards.