Climate risk for communities’ livelihoods & its implications for human-wildlife conflict


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 on this 3rd webinar with a focus on climate change as we continue to share the latest thinking and evidence that is emerging on this key issue. We are particularly pleased to welcome Dr. Eirini Skrimizea, a postdoctoral researcher who focusses on the governance of socio-ecological development and the social aspects of climate change.


Towards improved parasite transmission understanding: A case study from the Indian Trans-Himalaya


We are pleased to welcome Dr. Munib Khanyari and Dr. Manvi Sharma. Our guests give a particular focus on how multi-use landscapes, home to both wildlife and livestock-dependent herders, require context specific approaches to addressing disease transmission risks.

During this talk we will travel to the mountains of Spiti, India. Munib and team explored gastro-intestinal nematode (GINs) infections between wild Bharal and domestic livestock. This was done through a socio-ecological lens, integrating parasite transmission modelling with field surveys and local knowledge. The team then evaluated the likely effectiveness of potential conservation and policy interventions. The main aim of the study was to provide a transferable multi-pronged approach to investigating disease transmission, in order to support herders’ livelihoods and conserve wild ungulates.


Tracing the Blue Eyes: The Genetic Ancestry of the Chinese Mountain Cat


Within China’s Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, called the rooftop of the world because it is the highest plateau on the planet, dwells the Chinese Mountain Cat or Chinese Steppe Cat (Felis silvestris bieti). This unique wild cat shares its species designation with the North African Wildcat (F. s. lybica), South African Wildcat (F. s. cafra), European Wildcat (F. s. silvestris), and the Asiatic Wildcat (F. s. ornata). We conducted surveys, collected cheek swabs, blood samples, and fecal samples for genetic analysis from cats in zoos, in the field, and in the homes of families in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau area for research. Our research provided the world’s first genetic evidence of historical and contemporary introgression events between domestic cats (F. s. catus) and F. s. bieti. The results provide genetic evidence that a substantial percentage of the genomes of some Chinese domestic cats are as much as ten percent F. s. bieti. Genome-wide analyses classified the Chinese mountain cat as a wildcat conspecific F. s. bieti, which was not involved in cat domestication of China, thus supporting a single domestication origin arising from the African wildcat (F. s. lybica). A complex hybridization scenario including ancient introgression from the Asiatic wildcat (F. s. ornata) to F. s. bieti, and contemporary gene flow between F. s. bieti and sympatric domestic cats that are likely recent Plateau arrivals, raises the prospect of disrupted wildcat genetic integrity, an issue with profound conservation implications.

Dr. Shu-Jin Luo is a Principal Investigator at the School of Life Sciences, Peking University, China. A conservation and evolutionary geneticist with a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and a postdoc at the National Cancer Institute in Maryland, Dr. Luo is leading an active research team working on the genetics of wild and domestic cats and is the lead author discovering the new Malayan tiger subspecies Panthera tigris jacksoni, finding the genetic causes of the white tiger, and elucidating the evolutionary histories of various endangered felids including the tiger, leopard cat, and the Chinese mountain cat. Dr. Luo is a member of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group since 2005 and a council member for the American Genetic Association (AGA) since 2020.

Dr. Terry Townshend joins us at facilitator and Ganga Ram Regmi, Founder and Director of Third Pole Conservancy, Nepal, as our discussant.

Watch on you tube –

Drivers of snow leopard poaching and illegal trade in Pakistan


Please join us in welcoming our guest speaker Fathul Bari from the University of Chitral, who shares updates on this prominent threat to snow leopards in Pakistan. This talk is followed by a discussion where we explore ideas to combat this omnipresent threat to snow leopards in greater detail, drawing upon our guests experiences and knowledge from across the world. We will have Dr. Koustubh Sharma share recent developments from GSLEP that curates a collaborative database on poaching and illegal wildlife trade in snow leopards.

Poaching and trade of snow leopards is poorly documented in Pakistan. Pakistan is however ranked for greater poaching incidents as compared to its share in the global snow leopard range. The country is also ranked among the top five countries where 90% of snow leopard poaching occurs, although seizure records for the country are low. During this talk we will discuss the dynamics and drivers of snow leopard poaching and trade from Pakistan.


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


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


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


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


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