Publication Alert – New Article to the Bibliography

Dear Members,

Please see the details below of a new article added to our bibliography:

Title: Relative influence of wild prey and livestock abundance on
carnivore-caused livestock predation.

Authors: Khanal, G., Mishra, C., Suryawanshi, K. R.

Abstract: Conservation conflict over livestock depredation is one of the
key drivers of large mammalian carnivore declines worldwide. Mitigating
this conflict requires strategies informed by reliable knowledge of
factors influencing livestock depredation. Wild prey and livestock
abundance are critical factors influencing the extent of livestock
depredation. We compared whether the extent of livestock predation by
snow leopards Panthera uncia differed in relation to densities of wild
prey, livestock, and snow leopards at two sites in Shey Phoksundo
National Park, Nepal. We used camera trap-based spatially explicit
capture–recapture models to estimate snow leopard density;
double-observer surveys to estimate the density of their main prey
species, the blue sheep Pseudois nayaur; and interview-based household
surveys to estimate livestock population and number of livestock killed
by snow leopards. The proportion of livestock lost per household was
seven times higher in Upper Dolpa, the site which had higher snow
leopard density (2.51 snow leopards per 100 km2) and higher livestock
density (17.21 livestock per km2) compared to Lower Dolpa (1.21 snow
leopards per 100 km2; 4.5 livestock per km2). The wild prey density was
similar across the two sites (1.81 and 1.57 animals per km2 in Upper and
Lower Dolpa, respectively). Our results suggest that livestock
depredation level may largely be determined by the abundances of the
snow leopards and livestock and predation levels on livestock can vary
even at similar levels of wild prey density. In large parts of the snow
leopard range, livestock production is indispensable to local
livelihoods and livestock population is expected to increase to meet the
demand of cashmere. Hence, we recommend that any efforts to increase
livestock populations or conservation initiatives aimed at recovering or
increasing snow leopard population be accompanied by better herding
practices (e.g., predator-proof corrals) to protect livestock from snow
leopard.

URL: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ece3.6815

Fomonomore via Facebook Watch – Big Cats: The Inside Story/E7/Latika Nath/Koustubh Sharma/Snow Leopards

 

Koustubh Sharma – Senior Regional Ecologist – Snow Leopard Trust

At the GSLEP Secretariat, he helps with the coordination of implementation of the Bishkek Declaration – a unique alliance that brings 12 sovereign countries and several international financial institutions and organizations together for conservation of snow leopard and its ecosystem. 

In this episode of ‘Big Cats – The Inside Story’, he takes us on a journey to the mountains. He reveals how snow leopards act as a vital part of the ecosystem and how they are the custodians. Join Koustubh and Latika for an hour of conversation and stories in Episode 7.

Link – https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=972655533186116&ref=watch_permalink

Snow Leopard Conversations – Not all large carnivores are the same: predators, prey and the snow leopard

The Snow Leopard Network is pleased to announce a continuation of our series entitled “Snow Leopard Conversations”. This new series aims to showcase the latest science and research related to snow leopards. These conversations are aimed to cover unexplored themes and emphasises interdisciplinary approaches. We hope to promote more such talks and discussions in future.
We are delighted to welcome Dr. Francesco Ferretti  and Dr. Sandro Lovari who will explore a number of hypothesises on how snow leopard interact with prey and other carnivores.  

About the talk:

Access to adequate large prey and avoidance of competition with larger predators are two major determinants of behaviour and ecology of carnivores. Moreover, predators and prey are constantly involved in an evolutionary arms race, aiming at maximising prey capture rate and minimising predation, respectively. Man-induced habitat manipulation and prey depletion alter these natural dynamics. The way these factors interact is crucial to enhance conservation of large carnivores.

This talk will combine recently published and ongoing meta-analyses on food habits of large terrestrial carnivores and studies on predator-prey interactions, to explore the role of prey diversity in influencing carnivore coexistence as well as favouring their persistence. In particular, implications for a better understanding of the ecology of the snow leopard and its interactions with competitors and prey will be discussed.

About our Speakers:

We wish to introduce Dr. Francesco Ferretti who is mainly interested in behavioural ecology and management of large mammals, with an emphasis on mechanisms of interspecific interactions (including competition, facilitation and predator-prey relationships). He has worked on different species of ungulates (several deer species, wild boar, Apennine chamois, Alpine chamois) and carnivores (wolf, red fox and large cats such as snow leopard, common leopard and tiger). He is on the editorial board of Mammalian Biology and Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, as well as member of the Caprinae Specialist Group of the IUCN. Currently he is an Associate Professor in the University of Siena.
Francesco will be joined by Dr Sandro Lovari as facilitator.

 

Date/Time

Tuesday September 29th 2020; 10:00am Italy Central Europe Time

Register

Register to attend through the following link:

ZOOM Registration

    • If you have never used Zoom before, we recommend that you try the link 10 minutes before the start of the lecture.
    • During the talk, please keep your microphone muted.
    • Please feel free to write questions in the comment area and there will be time for questions/discussion at the end of the talk.
    • The Zoom event is limited to 100 participants. Please register for the event and also sign in early to ensure your place.

SLN Training Initiative – Social Research – Module 4

This course is Module 4 of the Snow Leopard Network’s training initiative.

Course Content

Conservation, especially in snow leopard landscapes, occurs at the interface of humans and wildlife. To find workable solutions to these complex environmental issues, understanding local communities and how they interact with the landscape is essential. This course provides a brief introduction to social science theory and methodology for conservation practitioners and researchers working in snow leopard landscapes. It will equip participants to ask research questions and design a study using social survey methods commonly needed by conservationists in the field, such as structured and unstructured interviews.

Knowledge & skills you will gain

      • Understanding the basics of applied social science
      • Learning to design a social research study
      • Collecting data from human subjects
      • Ethics of conducting social science research

Meet the trainers

Dr. Saloni Bhatia is an interdisciplinary researcher who has worked in the high-altitude landscapes, first on policy and later, on research issues for close to a decade. She is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Centre for Technology Alternatives in Rural Areas (IIT-Bombay). Her research primarily focuses on the interface between people and wild animals. She completed her PhD from Manipal University and MSc. from University of Oxford.

Dr. Ranjini Murali is the Conservation Scientist at the Snow Leopard Trust. As a part of her role she supports research and conservation work across the snow leopard range. She is also a research associate with the Nature Conservation Foundation and a visiting faculty with the Azim Premji University. She is a Fellow with the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) on the values assessment that assesses the multiple values that humans have for nature. She completed her PhD from Manipal University and her MSc. from the University of St. Andrews.

Criteria for participation

    • Snow Leopard Network Member
    • Experience or willingness to work on snow leopard conservation efforts
    • Confirmed availability to attend all the four online seminars of a given module
    • Number of participants is limited to 25
    • Priority will be given to participants from snow leopard range countries 

Planned Schedule

    • 2 hour online Zoom Seminars take place every Wednesday of the month, October 2020 (4 Seminars; Oct 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th) at 14:00 Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan time.
    • Additional group work, assignments or readings are likely to be organized by the trainers
    • Please note we expect all participants to attend the complete set of Wednesday Seminars as they are interconnected and build on each other
    • Details of each specific Seminar topic will be shared approximately 5 days beforehand; including any expected preparations by participants.

Deadline for Applications

    • Wednesday, September 16th, 2020. Please note places are limited so please do not delay in applying.
    • Please fill in the following APPLICATION Closed 

Using Drones To Assess Populations Of Snow Leopard Prey Species – A Preliminary Report and Video

In 2019, a group of researchers traveled to Mongolia to test the utility of employing drone (UAV) technology for assessing the abundance of snow leopard prey species like argali and ibex. Dr. Rodney Jackson, the Snow Leopard Conservancy’s Director was accompanied by Dr. Don Hunter of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Cat Conservancy, Dr. Bariushaa Munkhtsog of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Biology, and Irbis Mongolia, and videographer Ben Hunter of the Isaacson School for New Media, Colorado Mountain College.

Snow leopards are at risk of extinction due to a wide variety of threats, including retaliatory killing, poaching, prey depletion, and habitat loss and disruption. In order to help this species survive, it’s important to know their numbers, distribution, and characteristic behaviors. However, being an inhabitant of a high-mountain environment snow leopards are very difficult to locate and study. Newer non-invasive research methods like trail cameras and fecal genotyping have been helpful, but there still remains the question as to how many snow leopards and prey remain in the wild – questions which lie at the very heart of the 12 range state GSLEP-supported PAWS program.

Given that it is very difficult and expensive to count the cats, an easier, less-expensive alternative is assessing the abundance of their large prey species like ibex, argali, and blue sheep. Snow leopards and other predators thrive in areas with a healthy and stable prey base. Therefore, one can infer snow leopard population capacity based on the number of available prey, including wild and domestic ungulates (hoofed stock).

Some wild ungulates are easier to observe as they prefer open terrain, but they still occupy a vast habitat. In recent years, drones equipped with infrared thermal (temperature) sensors have proven effective for rapidly surveying more habitat than is possible by a person walking along transects and counting the wildlife observed.

After successfully testing the drone surveying deer (mountain lion prey) in Colorado, the team traveled to Mongolia’s Ikh Nart Nature Reserve in the East Gobi Province and Toost Uul Community Reserve, located in the South Gobi.  A commercial-grade drone, the DJI Matrice 210, utilizing thermography and a powerful zoom lens was deployed to detect and assess numbers of argali and ibex along several fixed transects that have been surveyed annually over the last 20 years under a program established by Denver Zoo.

Though preliminary, the results were very encouraging. The drone detected a total of 37 argali in six groups along one 4-km (2.5-mile) transect, as illustrated below. This and other transects are monitored annually by ground observers that walk and note animals  one kilometer (approx. 1,100 yards) on either side.  However, not all parts of each transect is visible to them. Using GIS and a 30 meter DEM (Digital Elevation Model), we mapped the rough extent of terrain, the “viewshed,” visible to observers walking the transect centerline, indicated by the green-shaded areas.  The brown areas were obscured to the ground observers but  visible to the drone flying at 100 m (330 feet) above ground level.

As shown in the figure, four of the six argali groups were in areas obscured from human observation, areas such as hidden valleys, gullies or behind rocky outcrops, and thus only visible to the drone flying overhead. The drone covered the entire transect in a fully autonomous 20-minute flight covering the four transect segments shown in black. In all, it was a very promising start to a project that clearly merits continued study.

Click the link below to view a video of the project produced Ben Hunter:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSszMTNKN_4&feature=emb_title

This project was supported by a Sabin Foundation grant the Rocky Mountain Cat Conservancy received from Panthera. Thanks also to the SLC donors for their support.

Submitted by Dr. Rodney Jackson, Dr. Don Hunter and Dr. B. Munkhtsog.

Publication Alert – New Article to the Bibliography

Dear Members,

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

Title: Understanding population baselines: status of mountain ungulate
populations in the Central Tien Shan Mountains, Kyrgyzstan

Authors: Khanyari, M., Zhumabai uulu, K., Luecke, S., Mishra, C.,
Suryawanshi, K.

Abstract:  We assessed the density of argali (Ovis ammon) and ibex
(Capra sibirica) in Sarychat-Ertash Nature Reserve and its neighbouring
Koiluu valley. Sarychat is a protected area, while Koiluu is a human-use
landscape which is a partly licenced hunting concession for mountain
ungulates and has several livestock herders and their permanent
residential structures. Population monitoring of mountain ungulates can
help in setting measurable conservation targets such as appropriate
trophy hunting quotas and to assess habitat suitability for predators
like snow leopards (Panthera uncia). We employed the double-observer
method to survey 573 km2 of mountain ungulate habitat inside Sarychat
and 407 km2 inside Koiluu. The estimated densities of ibex and argali in
Sarychat were 2.26 (95% CI 1.47–3.52) individuals km-2 and 1.54 (95% CI
1.01–2.20) individuals km-2, respectively. Total ungulate density in
Sarychat was 3.80 (95% CI 2.47–5.72) individuals km-2. We did not record
argali in Koiluu, whereas the density of ibex was 0.75 (95% CI
0.50–1.27) individuals km-2. While strictly protected areas can achieve
high densities of mountain ungulates, multi-use areas can harbour
meaningful
though suppressed populations. Conservation of mountain ungulates and
their predators can be enhanced by maintaining Sarychat-like “pristine”
areas interspersed within a matrix of multi-use areas like Koiluu.

URL:

https://snowleopardnetwork.org/bibliography/Khanyari_et_al_2020.pdf

With regards,

Rakhee

Snow leopard research and conservation in Nepal: Past, Present and Future

 

Snow leopard research and conservation in Nepal: Past, Present and Future

The Snow Leopard Network is pleased to announce our fifth SLN webinar of 2020 where we travel to Nepal. This Webinar series aims explicitly to feature snow leopard range country national updates and experience. As our SLN committee chair, Dr. Lu Zhi, suggested as she launched the webinar series – it is a pleasure to take this opportunity to learn from each other and build links between our efforts across the snow leopard range.

Nepal has a long and very special history in snow leopard conservation. Research and conservation efforts in Nepal were path finding for the wider snow leopard community. In this month’s Webinar are delighted to welcome Gopal Khanal who is currently working as Assistant Conservation Officer in Shey Phoksundo, the largest National Park of Nepal home to a significant population of snow leopards. We also will be joined by Dr. Som Ale, a member of SLN’s Committee, who has been working in snow leopard conservation in Nepal for over two decades. Together our guests will bridge past and present with a special focus on community based conservation through the lens of policy and research. We will also look towards Nepal’s snow leopard conservation agenda for the next decade.

More on the talk: Nepal is believed to host 10% of the global snow leopard population. Since the early 1970s Nepal has adopted both an ecosystem approach (establishing protected areas) and species approach to conserve, research and monitor the country’s snow leopards. Gopal will share his thoughts on recent developments and give us insights on some promising recent snow leopard research and conservation efforts in Nepal. Som Ale will join as discussant and provide a longer term perspective of Nepal’s conservation efforts and will set this within future snow leopard conservation priorities. 

More about our guests: 

Gopal Khanal currently works for Shey Phoksundo National Park office, Dolpa as an Assistant Conservation Officer. He has been working on snow leopard research and conservation in the Nepal Himalayas since 2014. He completed his Master’s degree in wildlife biology and conservation. His master’s thesis examined the influence of wild prey and livestock on snow leopard predation on livestock in Nepal.

Som Ale spent over a decade working as a conservation manager in north central Nepal and was Officer in Charge of Nepal’s National Trust for Nature Conservation – Annapurna Conservation Area Project. Som now lives in the United States and serves as a professor of biology and ecology at the University of Illinois – Chicago.  Dr. Ale is passionate about protecting the snow leopard in ways that benefit the animals, environment, culture, and community; and has developed powerful, unique, and engaging conservation initiatives.  

Date/Time: August 25th, 2020 Tuesday 17:45 Kathmandu time (Please log into the meeting 5 min early to set up)

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.
  • During the talk, please keep your microphone muted.
  • Please feel free to write questions in the comment area and there will be time for questions/discussion at the end of the talk.
  • The Zoom event is limited to 100 participants. Please register for the event and also sign in early to ensure your place.

 

Publication Alert – New Article to the Bibliography

Please see details below, of a new article added to our Bibliography.

Title: Patterns of Livestock Depredation and Large Carnivore
Conservation Implications in the Indian Trans-Himalaya

Authors: Maheshwari, A., Sathyakumar, S.

Abstract:  Livestock is one of the major sources of livelihood for the
agro-pastoral communities in central and south Asia. Livestock
depredation by large carnivores is a wide-ranging issue that leads to
economic losses and a deviance from co-existence. We investigated the
grass root factors causing livestock depredation in Kargil, Ladakh and
tested the findings of diet analysis in validating reported livestock
depredation. Globally vulnerable snow leopard (Panthera uncia) and more
common wolf (Canis lupus) were the two main wild predators. A total of
1113 heads of livestock were reportedly killed by wolf (43.6%) followed
by unknown predators (31.4%) and snow leopard (21.5%) in the study site
from 2009 to 2012, which comes to 2.8% annual livestock losses. Scat
analysis also revealed a significant amount of livestock in the diet of
snow leopard (47%) and wolf (51%). Poor livestock husbandry practices
and traditional livestock corrals were found to be the major drivers
contributing in the livestock depredation. Based on the research
findings, we worked with the local communities to sensitize them about
wildlife conservation and extended limited support for predator proof
livestock corrals at a small scale. Eventually it helped in reducing
conflict level and conserving the globally threatened carnivores. We
conclude that a participatory approach has been successful to generate
an example in reducing large carnivore-human conflict in the west
Himalaya.

URL: 
https://snowleopardnetwork.org/bibliography/Maheshwari_and_Sathyakumar_2020.pdf

SLN Webinar- Special Guest- Reflections from the past

Snow leopard conservation: Reflections from the past

We would like to invite you to our fourth SLN webinar of 2020. This webinar takes us back to consider snow leopard conservation efforts over the longer term. We are extremely pleased to welcome our guest Raghu Chundawat who has followed snow leopard conservation since the 1980s and was one of the first to complete a PhD with a focus on the elusive cat. As we look ahead to the future it is important we know where we have come from, what has changed and what hasn’t. Join us for this very special Webinar where we travel to the past and hear important perspectives of conservation developing over this extensive stretch of time. 

More on the talk: Raghu Chundawat will be sharing reflections on a time when very little was known about the snow leopard. In particular, he will share recollections of the very real challenges of studying snow leopards in the wild. He will share stories from following snow leopards for hundreds of kilometres in the unforgiving rugged mountains. Finally Raghu will give his thoughts on how to support and bring about long term community conservation. Raghu will be joined by Joe Fox who is known for having led one of the first snow leopard surveys in India and who was a key supporter and guide to Raghu’s early conservation work in Ladakh. 

Structure: Our guest will be interviewed by Dr. Koustubh Sharma for 30 min followed by a 30 min discussion period. Joe Fox will join as a discussant. During the talk feel free to write questions in the chat section that we can take forward during the discussion section.

More about our guest: Raghu Chundawat is a distinguished conservation biologist who has worked on snow leopard and tiger conservation since the 1980s. His PhD was on snow leopards in Ladakh (1985-93) and he was the Regional Science and Conservation Director of the Snow Leopard Trust (2005-08). He has been a witness—and participant—in the progression of conservation efforts in Ladakh.

Date/Time: August 4th, 2020 Tuesday 15:30 India time (Please log into the meeting 5 min early to set up)

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.
    • During the talk, please keep your microphone muted.
    • Please feel free to write questions in the comment area and there will be time for questions/discussion at the end of the talk.
    • The Zoom event is limited to 100 participants. Please register for the event and also sign in early to ensure your place.