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.

Module 11: PARTNERS Monitoring and Evaluation 

About the module

Monitoring and Evaluation is a critical part of community conservation programs. It is necessary to identify and address any implementation challenges. It can also ensure that conservation programs are improved as required in response to changing threats and opportunities at the local level.

This module will focus on introducing participants to participatory approaches in monitoring and evaluation of community conservation programs. It will cover core terms, principles and approaches to M&E that are important foundations of conservation program planning and implementation. How can M&E be incorporated into conservation programs in a way that supports community ownership and engagement? 

We will draw on a set of principles and guidelines for community-based conservation, called the ‘PARTNERS principles’, which have been developed based on the extensive experience of snow leopard conservation practitioners. The team will showcase participatory techniques for M&E from snow leopard and wider landscapes across the world. These sessions will build on Module 3 and Module 7 offered in 2020. An optional session will include a “workshop” style approach where the team works through planning a monitoring or evaluation method for real world examples from the snow leopard range. 

This module is offered thanks to the partnership with France’s National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment and the Snow Leopard Trust.   

A livestock owner in Ladakh, India, who partnered with the Nature Conservation Foundation to build a predator-proof corral. Photo: Snow Leopard Trust

Dates/time of module

  • Wednesdays May 5th, 12th, 19th 2021
  • 14:00-16:00 Bishkek time

Module Outline

  • Session 1: Introduction to Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Session 2: Community Conservation & Monitoring
  • Session 3: Participatory Approaches to Evaluation 

Meet the Resource Team

Ajay Bijoor supports conservation efforts in the regions of Ladakh and Spiti valley in India. Over the last eight years, he has worked on setting up, running and monitoring community-conservation efforts in these regions. This effort aims at trying to create conditions conducive for conservation. More recently he has also been facilitating the process of building capacity for community-based conservation in snow leopard range countries.  

James Butler is currently running a program entitled ‘Knowledge brokering for Pacific climate futures’, which is designing participatory approaches to encourage the emergence of knowledge brokers, and then mechanisms to support them. Previously James has worked in resource conflict situations in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Zimbabwe and Scotland.

Juliette Young is a senior researcher at INRAE (France’s National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment) where she studies the human dimensions of biodiversity conservation. Much of her work focuses on the role of different actors, especially decision-makers and local communities, in the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity. She has been working with the Snow Leopard Trust since 2016 on training in community-based conservation.

Justine Shanti Alexander is the Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Network. She provides support to the evaluation of the efficiency and effectiveness of community conservation initiatives to partners across the snow leopard range. Justine also acts as the Regional Ecologist for the Snow Leopard Trust and supports research and conservation work across China, Mongolia, Pakistan, India and Pakistan.

Criteria for participation

  • Snow Leopard Network Member
  • Confirmed availability to attend all the four online seminars of a given module
  • Number of participants is limited to 25

Planned Schedule

  • 2 hour online Zoom Seminars take place Wednesdays of the month, May 2021 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.
  • Please note that all sessions are recorded and then made available online through the SLN youtube channel. By participating in these online sessions you automatically agree to authorise recording of audio and visual content presented during the live event and consent to subsequent use of the recording in the public domain by SLN. If you have any concerns please contact us. 

Deadline for Applications

  • Friday, April 25th, 2020. Please note places are limited so please do
    not delay in applying.
  • Register HERE

Snow leopards in Nepal: Satellite Telemetry Update

SLN welcomes Samundra Subba and Sheren Shrestha from WWF Nepal in this further update from teams working in Nepal. Orjan Johansson – SLN Steering Committee member and also a specialist on snow leopard collaring- will joins us as facilitator.

About the talks

Ensuring the long term viability of snow leopards (Panthera uncia) across large human dominated landscapes requires an understanding of its spatial ecology and movement behavior. In the first section of the talk, Samundra Subba presents preliminary findings of the first ever GPS telemetry study by the Nepal government in the western and eastern snow leopard landscapes, and supported by WWF. The speakers give insights into what was found regarding the snow leopard’s spatial range and movement patterns, including transboundary travel to India and China.

In a second section, Sheren Shrestha describes how the collaring research is blended with community knowlege to strengthen conservation efforts. While modern science and technology has helped us understand the elusive snow leopards better, many conservation solutions find basis in traditional and community knowledge. Sheren will furthermore outline how their project supports the Nepal government to find solutions that benefit both snow leopards and communities in the Himalayas, with focus on Shey Phoksundo National Park in western Nepal.

Find out more about our speakers HERE.

New Article to the Bibliography

 

 

Title: Large-scale and fine-grain population structure and genetic diversity of snow leopards (Panthera uncia Schreber, 1776) from the northern and western parts of the range with an emphasis on the Russian population.

Authors:  Korablev, M. P., Poyarkov, A. D., Karnaukhov, A. S., Zvychaynaya, E. Y., Kuksin, A. N., Malykh, S. V., Istomov, S. V., Spitsyn, S. V., Aleksandrov, D. Y.,  Hernandez-Blanco, J. A., Munkhtsog, B., Munkhtogtokh, O., Putintsev, N. I., Vereshchagin, A. S., Becmurody, A.,  Afzunov, S., Rozhnov, V. V.

Abstract: The snow leopard (Panthera uncia Schreber, 1776) population in Russia and Mongolia is situated at the northern edge of the range, where instability of ecological conditions and of prey availability may serve as prerequisites for demographic instability and, consequently, for reducing the genetic diversity. Moreover, this northern area of the species distribution is connected with the western and central parts by only a few small fragments of potential habitats in the Tian-Shan spurs in China and Kazakhstan. Given this structure of the range, the restriction of gene flow between the northern and other regions of snow leopard distribution can be expected. Under these conditions, data on population genetics would be extremely important for assessment of genetic diversity, population structure and gene flow both at regional and large-scale level. To investigate large-scale and fine-grain population structure and levels of genetic diversity we analyzed 108 snow leopards identified from noninvasively collected scat samples from Russia and Mongolia (the northern part of the range) as well as from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (the western part of the range) using panel of eight polymorphic microsatellites. We found low to moderate levels of genetic diversity in the studied populations. Among local habitats, the highest heterozygosity and allelic richness were recorded in Kyrgyzstan (He = 0.66 ± 0.03, Ho = 0.70 ± 0.04, Ar = 3.17) whereas the lowest diversity was found in a periphery subpopulation in Buryatia Republic of Russia (He = 0.41 ± 0.12, Ho = 0.29 ± 0.05, Ar = 2.33). In general, snow leopards from the western range exhibit greater genetic diversity (He = 0.68 ± 0.04, Ho = 0.66 ± 0.03, Ar = 4.95) compared to those from the northern range (He = 0.60 ± 0.06, Ho = 0.49 ± 0.02, Ar = 4.45). In addition, we have identified signs of fragmentation in the northern habitat, which have led to significant genetic divergence between subpopulations in Russia. Multiple analyses of genetic structure support considerable genetic differentiation between the northern and western range parts, which may testify to subspecies subdivision of snow leopards from these regions. The observed patterns of genetic structure are evidence for delineation of several management units within the studied populations, requiring individual approaches for conservation initiatives, particularly related to translocation events. The causes for the revealed patterns of genetic structure and levels of genetic diversity are discussed.

URL: https://snowleopardnetwork.org/bibliography/Korablev_et_al_2021.pdf

Exciting addition to Module 10: Conservation Optimism

Conservation Optimism

The study of environmental bright spots (i.e., “instances where science has successfully influenced policy and practice”) can be a crucial tool to help humanity navigate the current environmental challenges it is facing (Cvitanovic & Hobday 2018).

Conservation Optimism‘s mission is to empower researchers and organisations to tell these stories of conservation optimism — large and small — so as to inspire change.

Session 4 of Module 1o

In Session 4 of Module 10, you will get practical tips from the Conservation Optimism team on how to craft your messages using a solutions lens!

They will take you on a deep dive into their Positive Communication Toolkit and will help you identify and avoid the most common communication traps so that you develop solutions-based content in a range of formats. The structure of the workshop will be as followed:

Part 1

  • What is framing and why it matters?
  • Why are you communicating?
  • The values and beliefs underpinning your message
  • Communication traps and how to avoid them
  • Q&A

Part 2

  • Group exercise 1: discuss who you think the audience you’re trying to reach through your research/work is & what are the key outcomes you are hoping to get from reaching out to them.
  • Group exercise 2: Craft a Twitter post targeting the audience you identified earlier to achieve your key outcomes. You will then be feed backing your findings to the rest of the group.

 

Register to join the Session!

The Snow Leopard Network (SLN) and Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP) are pleased to launch a Snow Leopard Conservation Communication Module. 

We are pleased to invite the Conservation Optimism Team to lead Session 4. Find out more about the module and register before March 25th!

Registration Closed

 

  

Session 1: Overview of the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) and how it works

Module 9: Session 1

Overview of the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) and how it works.

This session will provide an overview of SMART use and navigation, design of the data model and data base, basic analysis with queries and summaries, an overview of reporting.

We thank Rab Nawaz, Purevjav Lkhagvajav, and Erdenetsolmon Ganbaatar for their case study presentations.

Session 1.1: Overview of SMART conservation tools

Session 1.2: Database setup, design data model, run basic analysis and reporting.

Session 1.3: Community Patrolling, Tost Reserve, Gobi Region, Mongolia.

Session 1.4: Local PA management in Arkhangai Province, Mongolia

Session 1.5: Patrolling and law enforcement, Pakistan – Rab Nawaz (WWF Pakistan)

Session 1.6: SMART Discussion

Country Update: Snow Leopard Conservation in Wakhan, Afghanistan

SLN is pleased to welcome the WCS Afghanistan team 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 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.

Do welcome Mr. Sorosh Poya Faryabi and Dr. Eve Bohnett and join us to listen to this very interesting presentation and discussion.

Camera trap photo of a female snow leopard with her two grown-up cubs in Ween Sar, Shikargah Valley, Wakhan National Park, Badakhshan Province, June 2020, ©WCS, UNDP-GEF and EU project

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, will provide an update on the status of snow leopards in the country. This will start 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 will describe 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 will 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.

Predator Proofing household corrals windows and doors Ftur and Kushnikhan villages of Wakhan National Park, Wakhan National Park, Badakhshan Province, September 2020, ©Amruddin Sanjer, UNDP-GEF and EU project
Snow leopard ranger team practicing data collection on the SMART mobile CyberTracker app, Wakhan, Badakhshan province, 26th November 2020, © Ali Madad Rajabi, UNDP-GEF Project.

About our Guests

Mr. Sorosh Poya-Faryabi joined WCS Afghanistan as Training Education and Outreach Adviser (2013- 2015) and was then promoted to the position of Conservation and Science Manager (2017). In this role, Sorosh oversees the overall implementation of conservation science actions for WCS in Afghanistan and particularly in the Wakhan National Park, which hosts the core population of snow leopards in the country. Before joining WCS, Sorosh worked as a programme officer at the Asia Foundation and was a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Sorosh received a M.Eng from the University of York in 2008 and a MPhil in conservation from the University of Cambridge in 2016.

Dr. Eve Bohnett is currently a contractor with WCS Afghanistan and a postdoctoral research fellow at San Diego State University, USA. Her interests include statistical ecology, teaching data science skills, conservation planning, and environmental governance. Eve received her Ph.D. from the University of Florida (2016-2020). Her dissertation research focused on spatio-temporal modelling for assessing landscape biodiversity and species distributions for birds and mammals using occupancy modelling and machine learning. Eve also received a M.Sc. from Wildlife Institute at Beijing Forestry University (2012-2015) while participating in research for wild felid and large mammal survey methods, mostly camera trapping study design and analysis. Her favourite hobbies are singing/song writing, studying Chinese, and traveling to pilgrimage places.

Participatory management planning: Wakhan district governor discussing the Wakhan National Parks management plan with Kyrgyz community in Siki village of Little Pamir, , Wakhan National Park, Badakhshan Province, August 2020, © Abdul Akbari, UNDP-GEF and EU Project.

Date/Time:Tuesday, 30th March, 2021; 17:00 Afghanistan Time (AFT)

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. 
Counting a flock of sheep and goats in Big Pamir, Wakhan National Park, Badakhshan Province, September 2020, © Ali Madad Rajabi, UNDP-GEF and EU Project.

Session 2: Getting started with the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART)

Module 9: Session 2

Getting started with the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART)

This Session provides a guide to how to prepare for SMART at a new site, determine the suitability of the site, division of tasks, designing the data model, training, monitoring and evaluation procedures.

Session 2.1: Effective Introduction of SMART protection management

Session 2.2: SMART Discussion

Модуль 9: Использование программы SMART (Инструмент пространственного мониторинга и отчетности) для управления и мониторинга популяции ирбиса

Snow Leopard Network рада представить своего партнера – Общество сохранения диких животных (WCS) – и предложить вашему вниманию данный семинар, первый на русском языке. Модуль 9 знакомит участников с инструментами для мониторинга популяций диких животных и потенциальных угроз в местах обитания ирбиса. Присоединяйтесь к нам!

О семинаре

Программа SMART (Инструмент пространственного мониторинга и отчетности) быстро стала мировым стандартом в управлении и мониторинге охраны территорий. В настоящее время программа SMART используется на более чем 900 охраняемых территориях в 60 странах по всему миру. Однако в ареале ирбиса данная программа пока применяется ограниченно. Программа SMART использует данные патрулирования в циклах управления, цель которых – поэтапное повышение эффективности рейдов. Программа может помочь в решении проблем, связанных с угрозами ирбису, его видам-жертвам и местообитаниям, а также обеспечить его сохранение. 

Основная цель данного семинара – подробно рассказать о том, как работает программа SMART в контексте адаптивного управления в ареале ирбиса. Основное внимание будет уделено процессу реализации программы на местах (тренинги, встречи, логистика и техническая поддержка).

Михил Хётте из российской программы Общества сохранения диких животных (WCS) будет вести семинар на русском языке и у вас будет время для обсуждений и вопросов.

Даты проведения семинара

  • 1 апреля 2021 г.
  • Четверг 17:30 – 19:30 по бишкекскому времени  

Михил Хётте

Михил имеет степень магистра в экономике и управлении бизнесом, которую он получил в университете Амстердама. Он работал в Голландии в качестве консультанта по вопросам управления в компаниях KMPG и Deloitte & Touche. С 1996 г. он принимает участие в природоохранных проектах на Дальнем Востоке России, с 1997 г. является директором Tigris Foundation (голландская НКО, созданная Михилом в целях сохранения дальневосточного леопарда и амурского тигра), в 2003-2008 гг. – сотрудник Лондонского зоологического общества. С 2006 г. в рамках российской программы Общества сохранения диких животных (WCS) занимается разработкой и внедрением программы SMART (ранее – MIST) для мониторинга и адаптивного управления рейдами. Специалисты WCS оказали содействие во внедрении программы SMART на 7 федеральных ООПТ в ареале амурского тигра и одном управлении охотнадзора на Дальнем Востоке России.

С 2016 г. Михил также работает над проектами SMART в Центральной Азии. Он помогал разрабатывать и внедрять SMART для проведения патрулирования под руководством WCS в ООПТ, созданной для охраны ирбиса в районе Вахан в Афганистане. В 2018 г. Михил провел 5-дневный семинар, посвященный знакомству с программой SMART, для Казахстанской ассоциации сохранения биоразнообразия и других ООПТ и природоохранных организаций. В том же году Михил вместе с Тони Линамом провел 3-дневный ознакомительный семинар по программе SMART в Бишкеке для специалистов из Киргизии, Узбекистана и Монголии. С 2019 г. он оказывает содействие Программе развития ООН и ее партнерам в Узбекистане во внедрении программы SMART на двух пилотных территориях в ареале ирбиса – Чаткальском и Гиссарском заповедниках. Если будет получено финансирование, в этом году Михил начнет свою работу над пилотным проектом по внедрению программы SMART в двух заповедниках в Киргизии, где обитает ирбис.

Заявки на участие в семинаре

  • Прием заявок – до пятницы 26, 2021.
  • Количество участников ограничено, поэтому не откладывайте подачу своей заявки.
  •  Applications Closed

Session 3: Using SMART tools to collect field data

Module 9: Session 3

Using SMART tools to collect  field data

This Session will introduce SMART Mobile and Collect- the exciting new additions to the SMART conservation toolkit– and how they can be used to protect wildlife and improve protected area management in the range of the snow leopard.

Session 3.1: Field data recording with SMART conservation tools

 Session 3.2: Demonstration of how to install SMART mobile on a handheld device

Session 3.3: Case study – Field patrolling with multiagency antipoaching unit (MAPU)