Tsering, Dawa, and John D. Farrington. “Human-wildlife conflict, conservation, and nomadic livelihoods in the Chang Tang.” Tibetan Pastoralists and Development: Negotiating the Future of Grassland Livelihoods. Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag Wiesbaden, Germany, 2017. 141-156.
Thank you for sharing this wonderful image by Shivkumar, who is one of the most dedicated frontline officers of the Himachal Pradesh Forest Department posted in the Lahaul region.
Shiv has spent many years trying to film and photograph snow leopards in and around Udaipur, where he is posted. He has also managed to capture the animal on camera trap over the past few years. Shiv is an amazing naturalist and also a very avid birder. He took this picture last winter when he visited Spiti. This image recently won the First Prize in the Wildlife category in a photography competition organised by the State Forest Department on the occasion of Wildlife Week in India.
Shiv is always very happy for his images to be used for general awareness creation. This is the image with a watermark of his name. I’m sure most SLN members are thrilled to see this image and may also wish to use it in various fora. They can get in touch with Shiv (contact details below), should they wish to get in touch with him, or should they wish to congratulate him personally on his continuing commitment towards his work.
Please find details below, of a new article added to our Bibliography:
Title: The timing of breeding and independence for snow leopard females and their cubs.
Authors: Johansson, O., Ausilio, G., Low, M., Lkhagvajav, P., Weckworth, B., Sharma, K.
Abstract: Significant knowledge gaps persist on snow leopard demography and reproductive behavior. From a GPS-collared population in Mongolia, we estimated the timing of mating, parturition and independence. Based on three mother–cub pairs, we describe the separation phase of the cub from its mother as it gains independence. Snow leopards mated from January–March and gave birth from April–June. Cubs remained with their mother until their second winter (20–22 months of age) when cubs started showing movements away from their mother for days at a time. This initiation of independence appeared to coincide with their mother mating with the territorial male. Two female cubs remained in their mothers’ territory for several months after initial separation, whereas the male cub quickly dispersed. By comparing the relationship between body size and age of independence across 11 solitary, medium-to-large felid species, it was clear that snow leopards have a delayed timing of separation compared to other species. We suggest this may be related to their mating behavior and the difficulty of the habitat and prey capture for juvenile snow leopards. Our results, while limited, provide empirical estimates for understanding snow leopard ecology and for parameterizing population models.
As many of you will know, the GSLEP Steering Committee (SC) Meeting will be taking place on snow leopard day – October 23rd, 2020. The Snow Leopard Network would like to host a virtual pre-event to the GSLEP SC meeting, on Thursday October 22nd. This will allow us to come together as a Network and join with the GSLEP SC participants, to discuss snow leopard conservation from a global perspective.
Our SLN Steering Committee member – Dr. Juan Li – will give a brief overview presentation on the global status of snow leopard threats and opportunities for conservation. Dr. Juan Li has been a leading figure in carrying out global assessments of snow leopard responses to climate change, predicting global distributions and identifying key geographic areas for conservation priority. This will set the scene for highlighting the need for continued global collaborations in snow leopard conservation. We will then showcase how SLN is working towards contributing to global conservation efforts and supporting GSLEP efforts. Dr. Koustubh Sharma from the GSLEP Program will also join us to highlight the SLN-GSLEP partnership. During the discussion period, we hope to hear from you, in terms of how SLN can support practitioners and policy makers across the range.
Please do join us on October 22nd, 2020 (a day before the SC Meeting), to catalyze energy and ideas towards snow leopard conservation at this important level. We thank the GSLEP Secretariat for hosting this event on their platform. Please see the details on how to attend this event below.
When: 13:00 Bishkek time; Thursday October 22nd, 2020
About our main speaker: Dr. Juan Li graduated from Peking University and got her postdoc at UC Berkeley. Her research has focused on the endangered snow leopard, including novel insights into understanding their basic ecology, identifying key threats and developing specific conservation strategies. She has systematically studied the habitat selection, population density, activity pattern, food habit, human-snow leopard conflicts, and conservation gaps of snow leopards on the Tibetan Plateau. She identified the climate refugia for global snow leopard population, and defined priorities for global snow leopard conservation landscapes. These results have been published on journals like Conservation Biology and Biological Conservation.
To Attend: the SLN pre-event will take place on Zoom using the Webinar feature. On Thursday Oct 22nd, please click the link below to join the webinar: https://snowleopard-org.zoom.us/j/83107190696
Nb: If you are a participant of the GSLEP Steering Committee meeting or PAWS Summit you can also access the event directly through the Attendify platform.
The Snow Leopard Network is pleased to invite you to our sixth SLN webinar of 2020. We will travel to Russia and hear an update on WWF-Russia’s recent work on snow leopard conservation.
Russia is host to a unique snow leopard population found at the most northern latitudes of the range, in areas largely bordering Mongolia. The county is at the same time estimated to hold 2% of the global snow leopard population. During the Webinar our special guests- Alexander Karnaukhov and Tatiana Ivanitskaya– will share insights into WWF-Russia’s snow leopard conservation program of the Altai-Sayan Eco-region. This Webinar will be an opportunity to build on our earlier country updates and discuss best practices for conservation and monitoring of snow leopards. These country updates are giving us a remarkable set of pictures of different efforts being launched independently from different sides of the range.
About the talk: Our guests will take us to the Altai-Sayan Eco-region of the Russian Federation. They will describe the main threat to the snow leopard in Russia- which is considered to be snaring. Poaching of other species, such as musk deer, with metal wire snares threatens the snow leopard. They will also share with us insights into WWF-Russia’s conservation strategy, including working with local hunters. The team will showcase a range of tools and techniques to monitor snow leopard populations in the area.
About the Speakers: Alexander Karnaukhov is a Senior Project coordinator of the Altai-Sayan office, WWF- Russia. Tatiana Ivanitskaya is a Press-Officer of the Altai-Sayan office, WWF-Russia
Date/Time: 10:00 am Moscow time, Tuesday, November 10th (Please log into the meeting 5 min early to set up)
Please find details below about a new article that has been added to our Bibliography:
Title: Detection and Genetic Characterization of Viruses Present in Free-Ranging Snow Leopards Using Next-Generation Sequencing
Authors: Johansson, O., Ullman, K., Lkhagvajav, P., Wiseman, M., Malmsten, J., Leijon, M.
Abstract: Snow leopards inhabit the cold, arid environments of the high mountains of South and Central Asia. These living conditions likely affect the abundance and composition of microbes with the capacity to infect these animals. It is important to investigate the microbes that snow leopards are exposed to detect infectious disease threats and define a baseline for future changes that may impact the health of this endangered felid. In this work, next-generation sequencing is used to investigate the fecal (and in a few cases serum) virome of seven snow leopards from the Tost Mountains of Mongolia. The viral species to which the greatest number of sequences reads showed high similarity was rotavirus. Excluding one animal with overall very few sequence reads, four of six animals (67%) displayed evidence of rotavirus infection. A serum sample of a male and a rectal swab of a female snow leopard produced sequence reads identical or closely similar to felid herpesvirus 1, providing the first evidence that this virus infects snow leopards. In addition, the rectal swab from the same female also displayed sequence reads most similar to feline papillomavirus 2, which is the first evidence for this virus infecting snow leopards. The rectal swabs from all animals also showed evidence for the presence of small circular DNA viruses, predominantly Circular Rep-Encoding Single-Stranded (CRESS) DNA viruses and in one case feline anellovirus. Several of the viruses implicated in the present study could affect the health of snow leopards. In animals which are under environmental stress, for example, young dispersing individuals and lactating females, health issues may be exacerbated by latent virus infections.
We wish to inform you that our Module 2 – SLN Training Initiative – Prey
Surveys is now available as an online toolkit for our members.
About this course:
Asia’s mountain ungulates– also known as the Mountain Monarchs of high
Asia- play an important role in maintaining ecosystems by influencing
vegetation structure and nutrient cycling. These include Argali (Ovis
ammon), Blue Sheep (Pseudois nayaur), Asiatic Ibex (Capra sibirica),
Urial (Ovis orientalis) and Markhor (Capra falconeri). However, owing to
their remote mountainous habitats and associated challenges in sampling,
there is a lack of information regarding their abundance, population
trends and ecology. There is a need for more information about the
population status of these ungulates, which carries special significance
in the protection of the snow leopard across its range.
Our Module 2 aims to equip participants with the knowledge and tools to
plan and carry out robust mountain ungulate surveys using the
Double-observer Method. We dive into understanding the fascinating
ecology of these species based on the latest research. The module is
divided into 4 parts and covers key concepts from planning surveys,
conducting them, analysing data, and using outcomes for conservation
action, publication and/or policy. Alongside we will have fascinating
talks by subject experts, sharing their experiences and outputs. This is
critical as conservation status assessment of any species requires
rigorous monitoring of their abundances, which done over time, can
provide knowledge of population trends.
This course was conducted live through on-line sessions with Snow
Leopard Network participants in August 2020. The training took place
over 4 sessions (each 2 hours) corresponding to key learnings necessary
for designing and carrying out double observer surveys to assess
ungulate abundance and density. The recordings from this live training
are now available below. Do follow the outlined structure of the course
as each session builds on each other. In total the course consists of 8
hours of video presentation and discussion.
This module has been co-created by a team of researchers and
practitioners from across the snow leopard range, including India,
Pakistan, Mongolia and China: Dr. Hussain Ali, Purevjav (Puji)
Lkhagvajav, Chagsadulam (Chagsaa) Odonjavkhlan, Dr. Lingyun Xiao and
Munib Khanyari. Together the module co-creators have worked to study and
protect mountain ungulates including Argali, Asiatic Ibex, Blue Sheep,
Markhor and Urial across India, Pakistan, Mongolia, China and
The live training sessions were led by Munib Khanyari with the support
of a number of guest speakers (Chagsadulam (Chagsaa) Odonjavkhlan,
Abhirup Khara and Dr. Yash Veer Bhatnagar). Munib is currently a PhD
Candidate at the University of Bristol and Oxford University in the UK.
He works on understanding factors that affect mountain ungulate
populations in Central and South Asia.
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
Snow leopards are difficult to observe and therefore collecting adequate data to address conservation, research, and monitoring questions can be challenging. This species persists at low densities, requires large tracts of habitat, and is capable of long distance dispersal. Most snow leopard populations exist in naturally fragmented landscapes and face increased impact and fragmentation from anthropogenic activities, all of which may disrupt various demographic processes important for population persistence. While camera traps have greatly aided in addressing some of the challenges of collecting data on these elusive animals, molecular techniques can provide the same, and in some cases superior, information compared to that of photo images. However, the investment in developing and using molecular techniques is largely underutilized across the snow leopard conservation community.
The Genetics Training Module, offered through the Snow Leopard Network, is meant to provide participants with a basic understanding of wildlife genetics and its applications to designing effective conservation programs for snow leopards. This course will largely serve as an introductory primer to more complex techniques, analyses, and applications of noninvasive genetics, but will cover a wide range of topics relevant to the leading approaches. We will start by outlining the power and utility of genetics in wildlife conservation. We will provide examples from the real-world applications of these methods for improving species conservation and management. Then we will cover the essentials for noninvasive sample collection, processing in the lab, and molecular approaches for species, sex, and individual ID. At the end we will introduce the most recent advances in utilizing Next Generation Sequencing. Finally, we will wrap up the course with an open round-table discussion on how to expand on these methods in range countries, and talk about the primary goals, opportunities, and challenges.
Meet the Trainers
Dr. Byron Weckworth is the director of Panthera’s Snow Leopard and Conservation Genetic programs. His research experience has involved work across a variety of ecosystems and species, including wolves,white-tailed deer, black bears, caribou, moose, and, of course, snow leopards. Byron’s work aims to address a wide spectrum of ecological and evolutionary questions pertinent to successful conservation.
Dr. Jan E. Janecka is an Associate Professor in Biological Sciences at Duquesne University. He published a study evaluating the utility of noninvasive genetics for monitoring snow leopards in 2007. Since then, he has worked with partners in Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, India, Mongolia, China, Kyrgyzstan, and Bhutan applying genetics to snow leopards to understand their distribution, abundance, diet, phylogeography, landscape connectivity, evolution, and adaptations to high altitude.
Imogene Cancellare is a PhD Candidate at the University of Delaware and is a partner of the Conservation Genetics Program at Panthera. Her research focuses on understanding the ecological and evolutionary patterns that impact snow leopard population connectivity range-wide. Her work aims to address the relationships between gene flow and landscapes at varying spatial scales to better inform conservation efforts, and to increase capacity for wildlife genetics research across Central Asia.
Charlotte Hacker is a PhD candidate at Duquesne University and research associate with the Snow Leopard Conservancy. Her research focuses on the use of molecular techniques to better understand snow leopard phylogeography, gene flow, and diet. Her work aims to contribute to current knowledge of the species’ population status at local and range-wide scales, as well as current understanding of species ecology and coexistence with humans.
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