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.

SLN Webinar: Women & Community Conservation

Across the range, snow leopards and people share space. Engaging with local communities is essential for snow leopard conservation. Community based programmes tend to engage with men largely due to social norms and existing power structures. This often results in excluding women, who are important stakeholders and form almost 50% of the adult population, from conservation action and decision making.

In this webinar, we explore how to better engage women in conservation programs across the snow leopard landscape. We hear examples from existing programs that specifically target women and discuss how conservation programs can themselves shift social norms around gender equality (positively or negatively). We also examine the key role of policy in transforming community based programs through incorporating gender sensitive approaches.  

We will be hearing from conservationists across the snow leopard range- Bayara Agvantsaaren, Dr. LuZhi and Rashmi Singh– who are working at different levels to engage women in snow leopard conservation. Each of them will highlight a particular aspect of their work that highlights the opportunities and challenges in promoting women’s role in community based conservation. Dr. Charudutt Mishra, the Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Trust, will facilitate the panel discussion. Charu has been a pioneer in community based conservation and brings a special perspective around how to make a difference at the ground level.

We hope to see you, all members both men and women, at this very special webinar and look forward to drawing on your experiences and insights during the discussion. This webinar is Part 1 of a Webinar Series focussing on the role of women in snow leopard conservation and science.

About the Webinar

Opening the webinar we first hear from the panelists, each with a five-minute presentation, where they set the context of their work and highlight key issues. This will be followed by the panel discussion facilitated by Dr. Charudutt Mishra for twenty minutes focusing on opportunities and identifying strategies and priorities for engaging women in conservation programmes. This will be followed by an open interaction with the audience.

About our Guests

Bayara Agvantsaaren is the Executive Director of Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation and Mongolia Program Director, at the Snow Leopard Trust. “I have been working as a snow leopard conservationist since 1998 when I co-found Snow Leopard Enterprises Program which offers income generation to women rural herders who share mountain with these elusive cats. It has been amazing 20+ years career journey to work with different aspects of conservation. I am privileged to be able to help both snow leopards and local people.” shares Bayara.

Professor Lu Zhi is a conservation biologist in China whose work covers multiple-disciplinary researches and bridging academic research and practices, in order to seek solutions for conservation and sustainable development in China and to promote China’s positive role in the world. She has studied ecology and conservation of endangered species in southwest China and on the Tibetan Plateau, such as the giant panda, the snow leopard, the blue sheep, the Tibetan brown bear and the Przewalski gazelle, as well as their interactions with human activities. In recent years, she focuses on mechanisms of coexistence between human and nature. She leads conservation initiatives on community-led conservation and citizen sciences in both rural and urban contexts based on economic incentives, cultural values and policy improvements. She involved in conservation policy making at regional and national levels, and is an active member of international conservation discussions. 

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 research interest includes disciplines of pastoral studies, rangeland conservation and animal geography. In the last nine years, she has worked extensively on the social dimensions of wildlife conservation across India. Her ongoing research has highlighted the importance of including pastoralists in the policy formulation, wildlife conservation, and management of rangelands. She is intrigued by the pastoral indigenous knowledge system and believes that long term regional studies are crucial for reconciling pastoral livelihood and rangeland conservation goals. 

Date/Time

Tuesday, September 21st, at 17:00-18:15 Bishkek time

Location

We regret to inform you that this Webinar has been postponed until further notice

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.
Photo by ShanShui

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!

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.

SLN Webinar: Birds in snow leopard habitats

Do join us for our next special SLN Webinar: “Birds in snow leopard habitats”. Many SLN members may recall that over the last year we have featured and explored the world of species co-existing with the snow leopard, including the grey wolf and the brown bear. When we think of other species co-existing with the snow leopard; we often don’t focus on birds. Yet a number of bird species have evolved at high elevations in snow leopard habitats and many more migratory species use snow leopard landscapes in summer.

This Webinar will describe 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.

Tibetan Bunting – a range-restricted endemic species of the region

About the Webinar

John and Terry will set the scene by describing a set of resident bird families (from small to very large) that have evolved in snow leopard landscapes at high altitudes. They will then move on to describing seasonal migrant birds and trace the routes they use into snow leopard mountain regions such as the river valleys of the Mekong. Some of these are short distance migrants, others longer and some remain unconfirmed in terms of routes and ultimate destinations. Finally they will explore the conservation implications for birds and snow leopards together. Throughout their presentations our speakers will draw on observations and learnings from the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.

About our Guests

John MacKinnon is a well-known ecologist and conservationist who has worked for for 45 years in Asia and over 30 years in China. He has written Bird Field Guides for several parts of Asia including China and has made several trips into snow leopards ranges including Bhutan, Nepal, the Tianshan and Qinghai, China. He has also produced a number of films on the wildlife of the Tibetan Plateau and Xinjiang.

John MacKinnon

Terry Townshend is a Beijing-based wildlife conservationist. Since 2016 he has worked with ShanShui Conservation Center to set up a community-based wildlife-watching tourism project on the Tibetan Plateau focusing on snow leopards and other apex predators. During more than 20 visits, he has documented the birds that share the mountain habitat with these magnificent cats, including their interactions.

Terry Townshend

Date/Time

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021; 19:00- 20:00 Beijing, China 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.
White-browed tit-warbler Photo by John MacKinnon
White eared pheasant Photo by John Mackinnon
Robin Accentor Photo by John Mackinnon
Little owl Photo by John Mackinnon
Golden eagle Photo by John Mackinnon
Beautiful rosefinches Photo by John Mackinnon
Ibisbill Photo by John Mackinnon

SLN Webinar: 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.

Photo by S Kennerknecht

About the Webinar

Climate Change: The team will first present the latest research and monitoring work being carried out under the UNEP Vanishing Treasures program. This work aims to investigate how pastoral communities are being impacted by climate change and find strategies to build community resilience.

Poaching: They will also discuss how Ilbirs Foundation supports the Kyrgyz Customs Service in tackling illegal wildlife trade. Dogs have been deployed at checkpoints for wildlife detection in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Protection 

Covid-19 Pandemic: The pandemic is affecting community conservation efforts. The team will share their experience and discuss strategies to keep community conservation efforts underway and effective in this period of uncertainty. 

About our Guests

Zairbek Kubanychbekov is the Director of Ilbirs Foundation. Prior to that he worked with Kaiberen Project and Panthera in Kyrgyzstan. Zair has been active in supporting the establishment of the very first community-based conservancies in Kyrgyzstan as well as working with the Kyrgyz Customs Service to train wildlife detection dogs.
Rahim Kulenbekov is a wildlife biologist with Ilbirs Foundation and prior to that with Panthera. Rahim has been a key member of the team that led the first snow leopard telemetry project in Kyrgyzstan.  He is the lead for the snow leopard and prey surveys under the UNEP Vanishing Treasures project in Kyrgyzstan. 
Kenje Sultanbaeva is program manager for Ilbirs Foundation. Formerly an English teacher she leads and supports all the communication for Ilbirs Foundation as well as environmental outreach programs.
Tanya Rosen is technical adviser for the UNEP Vanishing Treasures project in Kyrgyzstan and Conservation Adviser with the Caucasus Nature Fund. She has worked in Central Asia and on snow leopard conservation for 13 years, as Director of snow leopards programs in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan for Panthera until 2018 and adviser to BWCDO Project Snow Leopard in Pakistan. She is also co-founder of Ilbirs Foundation, member of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group and CMS CAMI Snow leopard focal point. 

Date/Time

Tuesday, July 13th, 2021; 17:00- 18:00 Bishkek Kyrgyzstan 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. 

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.

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. 

Snow Leopard Conservation in Wakhan, Afghanistan

SLN is pleased to welcome Mr. Sorosh Poya Faryabi and Dr. Eve Bohnett for this special Country Update. The Wakhan Corridor is a narrow strip of isolated high mountain terrain in the far northeast of Afghanistan. The landscape is situated in the western part of the snow leopard range, linking with Pakistan, Tajikistan and China. WCS Afghanistan in close partnership with the government of Afghanistan, has collated critical information about snow leopards in Wakhan through camera trapping and collaring. It also continues implement with district authorities varied community-based conservation action in this extremely remote part of the country.

About the talk

This webinar provides an overview of recent snow leopard conservation efforts in the Wakhan National Park (WNP), a 10,950km2 GSLEP designated ‘priority landscape’ in Afghanistan. The National Park is situated at the junction of the Pamir, Hindu Kush and Karakoram mountain ranges. WNP is co-managed by communities and the national government as an IUCN Category VI protected area. Since 2006 it has received contributions from numerous bilateral donors for conservation actions undertaken by the government, with the technical support of WCS. This region hosts the core of the snow leopard population in Afghanistan.

Mr. Sorosh Poya Faryabi, Conservation and Science Manager for WCS Afghanistan, provides an update on the status of snow leopards in the country. It starts off with the history of WCS engagement in snow leopard conservation in the country, followed by an overview of conservation efforts to protect snow leopards in WNP. Dr. Eve Bohnett then describes the population assessment approach and associated challenges the team has experienced in identifying snow leopard individuals with artificial intelligence in the Wakhan. Finally, the presenters look ahead and share ideas for the future development for snow leopard monitoring in the country.  

This presentation is a tribute to the People of Wakhan who provide snow leopards a safe haven in their area.

Find out more about our speakers HERE.