Study Says Climate Change May Trigger Habitat Loss for Snow Leopard

Source: Headline Himalaya

A study titled “Conservation and Climate Change: Assessing the Vulnerability of Snow Leopard Habitat to Tree Line Shift in the Himalaya” has indicated that of the estimated 270,000 km2 of Snow Leopard habitat in the Himalayan region, about 30% may be lost due to tree line shrinking and shifting of the alpine zone. The study highlights that in the case of IPCC greenhouse gas high emissions scenario, Bhutan and Nepal may lose snow leopard habitat by about 55% and  40% respectively whereas the loss has been estimated to be 25% in India and China.

June 2012
Biological Conservation, Volume 150, Issue 1, Pages 129-135

Snow Leopard Reemerges in Chitral Forest

Thanks to Headline Himalaya for alerting us to this story:

Source: http://dawn.com/2012/01/27/snow-leopard-reemerges-in-chitral-forests-2/

CHITRAL, Jan 26: Snow leopard was spotted in the forests near Bakamak and Shali villages in Chitral district on Wednesday and Thursday after long disappearance.

An official of the local wildlife department told Dawn on Thursday that the big cat appeared near Bakamak and Shali areas but heavy snowfall forced it into moving to Toshi game reserve at lower altitude.

He said snow leopard hadn’t been seen in the area over the last two years amidst fears about its extinction.

People thronged the Garam Chashma Road to catch a glimpse of the leopard.

The wildlife department official said the big cat descended to the areas of low altitudes in search of food after heavy snow in forests and high mountains and that small animals, including markhor and ibex, were its cherished food.

People fear attacks on them and their livestock by the big cat, especially at nighttime.

Ejaz Ahmad, a biodiversity specialist, said snow leopard lived in areas alongside Hindu Kush range of mountains.

He said leopard was declared an endangered specie in the recent past but its population density later surged satisfactorily.

Mr Ejaz said massive grazing in alpine rangeland, human conflicts, climatic change and decline in snowfall had led to reduction in the number of leopards. He said WWF had launched a snow leopard welfare project in some Chitral villages.

Meanwhile, Dinar Shah, in his eighties and from Seen village, said previously, people used to guard their families and livestock at nighttime but installation of bulbs around the village had curtailed leopard attacks.

He said leopard’s attacks on people were very rare as it targeted livestock, especially goats, only. He said the former Chitral rulers banned leopard killing but lifted the ban in view of growing cases of its attacks on livestock.

Some regretted that leopard was poached in the area for skin, which had a great demand in national and international market, without let or hindrance. They demanded registration of cases against leopards.

New Collar for Snow Leopard (English and Russian)

Thanks to SLN member Jennifer Castner for providing the English translation to the Russian language article below. To read the article in its original Russian, see this link:
http://sayanzapoved.ru/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=165%3A2013-03-26-06-46-30&catid=35%3Anews&Itemid=68

Translation is as follows:

In Sayano-Shushensky Nature Reserve (Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia), Mongol the snow leopard has a new satellite collar. He was caught by the Reserve’s science staff and zoologists from Severtsov Institute for Ecology as part of the South Siberia Snow Leopard Study and Monitoring Program.

Two years ago, Mongol underwent a similar procedure thanks to which all aspects of this species of wild cat became accessible. Since then, he has also posed repeatedly in front of camera traps in Sayano-Shushensky Reserve, which has permitted tracking his behavior and physical condition in his natural environment.

This time, biological samples were taken and a zoological-veterinary examination took place, both of which showed that Mongol is completely healthy and in great condition. The feline was set free, an hour after he was immobilized for examination and a change of collars.

The goal of tracking snow leopards using GPS is to gather information about his movements using the Argos satellite system. Data from Mongol’s collar will be gathered in two places: at Severtsov Institute and at the Reserve, and makes it possible to comprehend his movements and possible migration paths.

Studying snow leopards in the Reserve takes place within the framework of the “Wild Cats of Southern Siberia” project which is funded with support from the All-Russia Russian Geographic Society, Sayano-Shushensky Nature Reserve, Khakassky Nature Reserve and Pozarym federal Refuge and is under the personal supervision of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Currently, Sayano-Shushensky Reserve has the largest protected group of snow leopards in Russia, with 9 adults. During mating season, the number of wild felines within the Reserve grows to approximately 15 snow leopards.

Specialists are confident that this stable group of leopards persists thanks to strong enforcement efforts based on scientific study and comprehensive activities that increase environmental awareness and popularize knowledge about rare animals.

Enforcement improves annually thanks to planned, programmatic, and project activities. Joint patrols are conducted by staff from the region’s protected areas, and the frequency of patrols is increased in areas where snow leopards are resident. Improvements are being made to equipment and technology required for enforcement, science, and environmental education.

The Wild Cats of Southern Siberia program and Snow Leopard Study and Monitoring Program are ongoing, and that means that new discoveries will be made about the life of snow leopards.

Press Office, Sayano-Shushensky Nature Reserve

You can read about the controversial history of Mongol on The Altai Project’s website: http://www.altaiproject.org/2011/03/mongol-is-free/

Jennifer Castner jennifer@altaiproject.org Director, The Altai Project Moss Beach, CA (c) +1.510.393.5525

http://altaiproject.org Strengthening communities and protecting nature in Altai

Kazakh Activists Protest Ski Resort to be Built in Snow Leopard Habitat

Source: http://www.travelmole.com/news_feature.php?news_id=2005649&c=setreg&region=2
Author: Valere Tjolle

Mass mountain protest against mega ski resort in rare snow leopard territory – Letter sent to President signed by 7,000 campaigners gets snubbed, so “Flesh Mob” take to the snowy peaks to protest.

The central part of the National Park – Kok-Zhailyau gorge – is planned to become a place for a new huge ski resort and real estate development.

The National Park is above the Big Almaty Lake – home to a number of globally and locally endangered species which are listed in Kazakhstan’s  Red Book of endangered species.

Plans for the construction encompass a huge swathe of land up to the border of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, which is the prime habitat of the extremely rare snow leopard, Turkestan lynx (Lynx lynx isabellinus), Ibis bill (Ibidorhyncha struthersii), Tetraogallus himalayensis, Menzbier’s Marmot (Marmota menzbieri) and others.

Say the campaigners “The ski resort is only a disguise for the actual plan, which is to build private luxury houses, hotels and a golf-course in the very heart of the National Park. The Almaty Mayor’s Office and private business interests are lobbying the legislature to make amendments to laws and regulations so that they could not be accused in breaking the law and reach their goals”

“Our deep concern about this is that not only the integrity of the National Park will be destroyed but the ecology of the city of Almaty, adjacent to the National Park, will be dealt a deadly blow as well.”

“Currently Almaty is rated as number 4 in the list of the most polluted cities in the world by Newsweek. The city gets most of its fresh air and water from the “disputed” part of the National Park.”

“More then 7000 people signed an open letter to president Nazarbayev against this plan, but there has been no answer, and the city government continues to push the plans..”

In 2002 the Park was included into the tentative list of objects in Kazakhstan to be nominated for the status of UNESCO World Heritage (http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1681/).