From climate to carnivores: the transitions of a change

Major climatic changes have occurred on a number of occasions, with over 50 such changes taking place in the Pleistocene epoch alone. Each time climate change events have required ecological and behavioural adaptations to surviving plant and animal species, obliging them to seek refuge in suitable areas or cope with habitat modifications and alterations of local plant/animal communities. This can potentially lead to inter-species competition. Mountains are strongly seasonal habitats, which require special adaptations for wildlife species living on them.

Population dynamics of mountain ungulates are strongly influenced by the availability of rich food resources to sustain lactation and weaning during summer seasons. In turn, well fed juveniles will survive winter rigours more easily. In the case of an increase of temperature – such as in the current ongoing climatic change – plant phenology and nutritional quality will be affected. Predictions have been made on what could happen to populations of mountain ungulates based on how climate change could alter the distribution pattern and quality of high elevation vegetation. In this talk we will explore a case study using the “clover community-Apennine chamois Rupicapra pyrenaica ornata” to explore these relationships. All scenarios suggest a decline of the Apennine chamois in the next 50 years in its historical core range- from about 85% to 99% near-extinction. It is argued that the negative consequences of climate changes presently occurring at lower elevations will shift to higher ones in the future. These effects will vary with the species-specific ecological and behavioural flexibility of mountain herbivores, as well as with availability of climate refugia.

If climatic conditions do continue to change, these are likely to elicit a variation of resource availability for herbivores, and in turn for carnivores. A potential for exacerbation of interspecific competition could follow. Species distribution and abundance will be affected calling for farsighted measures of adaptive management and conservation.

Find out more about our speaker here

SLN Webinar: Snow leopards in the land of mountain deities

Camera trap photo by PNC

We invite you to our next SLN webinar which continues our series on different Science & Conservation perspectives around snow leopards. This webinar will take us to the Tibetan Plateau in China where we will hear from Awang, the founder of the Plateau Nature Conservancy. We will learn about how he and his team are bridging science and traditional knowledge for snow leopard conservation. LingYun, SLN’s Committee Member, will also join us as facilitator, adding insights from her work on the plateau. 

As usual our format will be a talk of 20-30 minutes followed by an interactive discussion. Awang has some remarkable images and stories to share. Please register through the link below and help us spread the word and share the news with your colleagues and those who would be interested in attending.

About the Webinar

Awang will share how the Plateau Nature Conservancy (PNC) is supporting Tibetan herders from the sacred mountain range Amney Machin at the Source of the Yellow River to carry out snow leopard camera trap surveys. He will discuss how his team is working with local herders to combine traditional ways of biodiversity conservation with the concepts of contemporary conservation and regional conservation policy. All of their work is conducted around mountains that are considered sacred in Tibetan Buddhism and around the sacred lakes at the source of the Yellow River. These sacred features of the area provide an opportunity to strengthen and protect these snow leopard landscapes. Awang’s talk will share how such traditional forms of protecting mountain areas are still playing an important role in conservation of alpine ecosystem and wildlife within it.        

Snow leopard camera trap photo by PNC. Can you see the snow leopard?
Phhoto by PNC

About our Guests

Awang is founder and director of Plateau Nature Conservancy (PNC) in China. He is a wildlife conservationist and researcher who has worked in the Tibetan Plateau for 10 years. In 2007, he joined Fauna and Flora International (FFI) and worked on several conservation initiatives including rangeland management, community-based conservation and public environmental education. In 2013, he completed his MSc at DICE, University of Kent, and majored in Biodiversity Conservation and Tourism. He is currently a member of ICCA (Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas) China and China Federation of Youth Committee.

Photo of Awang by PNC

Date/Time

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021 at 16:00-17:00 Beijing time

Location

Zoom: Register through the following link.

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.
Camera trap photo by PNC
Photo by PNC

Women & Science

The challenges presented by the current environmental crisis require a diversity of perspectives and capacities to achieve human well-being and biodiversity outcomes that are equitable and just. However, the scientific community is still missing essential perspectives from women scientists.

There is evidence of a large and persistent gender gap across a number of levels. For example, as an indicator of representation, a 2021 study showed that women represented only 11% of the top-publishing authors in over a 1000 leading journals in ecology, evolution, and conservation between 1945 to 2019. In the most recent period (2005-2019) there is progress but slow (18% vs 13% in the 1990-2004 period). Within those figures there remains further underrepresentation of women and scientists from the Global South. The research publication gap in the snow leopard conservation community has not yet been assessed in detail. It may however be facing a similar trend. Women’s contribution to snow leopard science is broader and individuals and organizations are making efforts to empower women scientists across the snow leopard range and world.  

In this webinar we hear from women scientists who have been working on snow leopard science –  Dr. Bermet Tursunkulova, Imogene Cancellare & Dr. Manvi Sharma – and involved in work that supports women in participation and decision making. They will highlight gaps and challenges they see for women in science and discuss strategies for building scientific capacity and creating a supportive community for snow leopard researchers. Dr. Justine Shanti Alexander, the Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Network, will facilitate the panel discussion. She has been actively involved in snow leopard research and conservation for a number of years and brings further perspectives from the SLN network.

More information about the speakers can be found here.

Birds in snow leopard habitats

 

This Webinar describes the remarkable diversity of bird life in snow leopard habitats and highlight how conserving the unique high elevation habitat of the snow leopard will benefit a range of other species. We welcome John MacKinnon, distinguished author of A Field Guide to the Birds of China (published in 2000), and Terry Townshend, well known in Beijing as a leading expert on ornithology, to lead the webinar- they will take us to the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and give us more than a birds eye view on this interesting look at snow leopard conservation.

Find out more about the talk and the speakers HERE. Enjoy the webinar!

SLN Webinar: Climate Change & Snow Leopards

Climate change is perhaps the overarching threat to snow leopards and their habitat. Knowledge about its impact on the species, its habitat and the people who share that habitat is growing but still remains incomplete and fragmentary. As our understanding of climate change impacts changes over time the Snow Leopard Network hopes to bring together experts and resource persons together to open up perspectives and share ideas for the way forward. 

Join us as we bring together practitioners and scientists from across the snow leopard range to share the latest thinking and evidence that is emerging on this key issue. We are particularly pleased to welcome Rinjan Shrestha, XiangYing Shi and Tserennadmid Nadia Mijiddorj who will share some of the latest research findings on how climate change is influencing snow leopard habitats and people’s livelihoods in Nepal, Mongolia and China.  

The understanding of climate change comes from both scientific enquiry and people’s observations and understanding. There is a need for bringing together and integrating different sources of knowledge from different contexts in order to shape conservation strategies for snow leopards. The presentations will be followed by a discussion facilitated by Sibylle Noras, a former SLN Steering Committee Member, on how we can use different approaches to gain a clearer picture of climate change influences. We hope that SLN members and participants will come into the discussion to enrich this important exchange.

Shi Xiangying conducting an interview in Sanjiangyuan, Qinghai

About the Webinar/Workshop

Impacts of climate change on snow leopard habitats: Rinjan Shrestha will open the webinar presenting the results of climate scenarios focussing on the Eastern Himalayas of Nepal. He will discuss the potential impact(s) of climate change on the snow leopard’s ecosystem including fluctuation in seasonal patterns, tree line shift and the ‘human footprint’. He will conclude by setting out the conservation implications of what is known on climate change and describe an approach followed in Nepal to develop a climate integrated spatial planning for snow leopard conservation.

Indigenous Knowledge of Climate Change in the South Gobi, Mongolia: We will then travel to Mongolia with Tserennadmid Nadia Mijiddorj. The Central Asian mountains, where livestock herding is the main source of livelihood, are among the environments predicted to be most affected by climate change. Here Nadia will be presenting how herder perceptions of climate change shape their responses and how different climate change scenarios will affect herder livelihoods in the Tost-Tosonbumba Nature Reserve of southern Mongolia. Her work suggests that herder perceptions of climate change can provide important information on factors that put their livelihoods at risk and adaptation strategies. 

Climate change & herder livelihoods in Qinghai, China: Finally Shi Xiangying will share insights from the Tibetan Plateau, an area of great ecological and cultural value, but where the ecosystem and social system is particularly vulnerable to global climate change. Taking Sanjiangyuan Area as an example, XiangYing has surveyed over 300 pastoral households gathering information on the impact and perception of climate change on local herders, analyzed the influencing factors, and discussed their adaptation strategies. Changes in temperature and precipitation have been found to have negative impacts on yak and caterpillar fungus income. XiangYing’s work suggests that to improve the resilience of local herders to the impacts of climate change, social, financial and natural capital need to be enhanced in critical ways.

Nadia in Tost, Mongolia

About our Guests

Rinjan Shrestha is a wildlife biologist and has been working with WWF-Canada since 2016. Prior to joining WWF-Canada, he worked as a conservation scientist for the Eastern Himalayas Program of WWF-US. He then helped develop country action plans for the conservation of tiger, red panda, rhino, wild elephant, and snow leopards. Currently, he is engaged in species conservation projects focusing on saving Asian big cats. As such, he spends a fair amount of time in the field studying ecology and behavior of these cats. Based on the findings of these studies, he assists local conservation partners in devising and implementing science-based conservation strategies.

Tserennadmid Nadia Mijiddorj has been engaged in snow leopard conservation since 2002. She is mainly interested in understanding how herding communities interact with the local environment in mountain rangeland ecosystems. She is an ecologist and currently completing her PhD entitled ”Climate change impacts on Gobi rangeland and herding communities in South Gobi Mongolia”.

 

Shi Xiangying, Executive Director of the Shan Shui Conservation Center, PhD candidate at School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Peking University. Graduated from Peking University and then Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, she has been engaged in ecological conservation and climate change economics, and has been working on community conservation work and project management.

Sibylle Noras worked for 30 years in news media, internet publishing and knowledge management. During many Himalayan treks she became interested in the Snow Leopard and the people sharing its habitat motivating her to launch the Saving Snow Leopards website in 2008. Sibylle was on the Steering Committee of the Snow Leopard Network from 2012 to 2018 and contributed to  “Snow Leopards – Biodiversity of the World: Conservation from Genes to Landscapes”.

Rinjan conducting a survey in Nepal

Date/Time

Tuesday, August 10th, at 17:00-18:15 Bishkek time

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.
A snow leopard in Mongolia, Photo by SLCF & SLT

Snow Leopard Conservation in the Kyrgyz Republic

The Snow Leopard Network is pleased to invite you to the next episode in the Country Update Series. This webinar will focus on Kyrgyz Republic and the work of the Ilbirs Foundation in tackling some of the most pressing and challenging threats the species face. 

The Kyrgyz Republic continues to play an important role in snow leopard conservation. More than half of the territory of the country is potential snow leopard habitat. The Kyrgyz Republic has been a leader in taking forward the global snow leopard conservation initiative the Global Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP) hosting the first ever Global Snow Leopard Forum in the capital, Bishkek, in 2013 and subsequent important gatherings. A number of civil society and academic institutions in the country are working to build a better understanding of the cats status and engaging with communities to address key threats. 

SLN welcomes four guest speakers working with the Ilbirs Foundation for this webinar, Zairbek, Rahim, Kenje and Tanya. They will be sharing updates from a range of new conservation initiatives that are taking shape in the country – addressing critical threats.

Find out more about the Webinar and the Speakers HERE.

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/

SLN Webinar: Over 100 Years of Snow Leopard Research

Research on or about the snow leopard dates back at least 100 years. It began to intensify in the 1970s and has continued to grow rapidly in the last 10 years. The Snow Leopard Network is pleased to invite to our forthcoming webinar – WWF’s snow leopard specialist Rishi Sharma and fellow author Rashmi Singh. Together they carried out a detailed review of snow leopard published research drawing on Google Scholar and the Snow Leopard Network’s bibliography archive. The presenters will highlight the main directions of thinking which shaped what research and conservation was undertaken over the different periods. They end with a number of questions that researchers and conservationist still face today as we look ahead into the future. 

Do join us for this very interesting applied look back at snow leopard research history and an opportunity to contribute to a lively discussion on the way ahead.

About the Webinar

The presenters – Rishi Sharma and Rashmi Singh have undertaken a review of all published research on snow leopards between 1904 and 2020. The goal was to examine the current state of knowledge across the snow leopard range while identifying spatial and temporal gaps. The findings are striking – bringing together the latest published information. Importantly the presenters will highlight the key gaps in our knowledge which may hamper effective conservation planning and action on the ground. The presenters set out seven key priorities for snow leopard research and conservation. Following the presentation we will open the floor for questions and discussion on snow leopard research priorities for the coming decade(s). 

About our Guests

Dr. Rishi Kumar Sharma. Born and brought up in a tiny village in the Himalayan foothills, Rishi is fascinated by all things concerning mountains. Rishi has a Master’s degree in Wildlife Science from the Wildlife Institute of India and a PhD in Ecology with a dissertation on snow leopards titled “A multi-scale study of habitat use and abundance of the endangered Snow Leopard “Panthera uncia“. Rishi has 15 years of experience in large carnivore research and conservation primarily tigers and snow leopards. He is currently the Science & Policy Lead for WWF’s Snow Leopard Conservation Program. He is passionate about finding solutions to conservation problems in High Asia by blending ecology, social sciences and the traditional community wisdom. His primary interests include carnivore ecology, animal behaviour, conservation biology and human dimensions of conservation.

Rashmi Singh is a PhD Scholar at the School of Human Ecology, Ambedkar University and Associate Editor for Pastoralism– research, policy and practice Journal. Her PhD work explores the politics of rangeland conservation in the Himalaya using an interdisciplinary approach. Her primary interest areas include research in the disciplines of pastoral studies, rangeland conservation and animal geography. Her ongoing research has highlighted the importance of including pastoralists in the policy formulation, conservation, and management of rangelands. She got interested in the fascinating world of snow leopards due to spirited discussion on “human snow leopard relationships” with Rishi, her partner. She is particularly interested in understanding the social dimension of Snow leopard conservation. She is intrigued by pastoral indigenous knowledge system and believes that long term regional studies are crucial for reconciling pastoral livelihood and rangeland conservation goals.

 

Ravneesh Singh/WWF-India

Date/Time

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021; 17:00- 18:00 India time

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. 

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.