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.

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.

Snow leopard & Tibetan brown bear conservation and research


In this first webinar of 2021 we travel to the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau with a young team of researchers who are looking at snow leopard conservation from a wider perspective- and considering other large mammals. We are pleased to welcome Charlotte Hacker and Dr. Yunchuan Dai who discuss Tibetan brown bear and snow leopard research and conservation in China. Our speakers give a particular focus to how these carnivores co-exist with humans and varying land use patterns- highlight key conservation messages and learnings.   


How the Tost mountains, Mongolia became a protected haven for snow leopards

This is a story of protecting the Tost Mountains from being given away under mining licenses. The story had a number of chapters and it’s share of hopes and disappointments. After a long campaign of over 7 years that included research, advocacy and political mobilization a set of mining licenses were finally revoked and Tost was designated as a Nature Reserve for snow leopards in 2018. 

Bayara  Agvantsaaren, the Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation Director starts by talking about the setting. She then shares a first hand account of how snow leopards face a number of emerging threats in Mongolia- in a context of economic needs that continue to pressurize the modern world. Bayara gives us an inside view of her team’s experience in accomplishing this extraordinary achievement in a very challenging setting, drawing on the support and involvement of local people and media. Dr. Charudutt Mishra, the Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Trust, joins us as discussant. He brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and thinking about how snow leopard conservation and development can go hand in hand while addressing emerging threats to snow leopards such as mining.

The timing of breeding and independence for snow leopard females and their cubs

This talk is a continuation of our series entitled “Snow Leopard Conversations”. The series aims to showcase the latest science and research related to snow leopards. Dr. Orjan Johannson presents the recent paper entitled “The timing of breeding and independence for snow leopard females and their cubs.” Our SLN Committee Member – Dr. Sandro Lovari – facilitates the session. The full article can be accessed through the following link.

Using a genetic lens to understand endangered species

We are delighted to welcome Dr. Uma Ramakrishnan for this thematic discussion on how genetics can be brought to bear more effectively on specific aspects of snow leopard conservation. Dr. Uma Ramakrishnan starts by exploring the reasons species go extinct, and describes how genetic methods and data can inform our understanding of species’ futures. Uma gives some examples of her work with tigers, and summarise their knowledge on snow leopard conservation genetics, including work to estimate snow leopard population size. Finally, she describes ongoing efforts (in collaboration with scientists at Stanford University) to understand more about snow leopards globally and locally. Dr. Byron Weckworth, Director of Panthera’s Snow Leopard and Conservation Genetic programs, joins us as principal discussant.

Snow leopard research and conservation in the Russian Federation

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 guests- Alexander Karnaukhov and Tatiana Ivanitskaya– share insights into WWF-Russia’s snow leopard conservation program of the Altai-Sayan Eco-region. They 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. The team showcase a range of tools and techniques to monitor snow leopard populations in the area. They also share with us insights into WWF-Russia’s conservation and communication strategy. 

The global status of snow leopard threats and opportunities for conservation

Our SLN Steering Committee member – Dr. Juan Li – gives 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 then showcase how SLN is working towards contributing to global conservation efforts and supporting GSLEP efforts. Dr. Koustubh Sharma from the GSLEP Program and key members of SLN’s Steering Committee also join us to highlight the SLN-GSLEP partnership.

Not all large carnivores are the same: predators, prey and the snow leopard

We are delighted to welcome Dr. Francesco Ferretti  and Dr. Sandro Lovari who explore a number of hypothesises on how snow leopards interact with prey and other carnivores

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 combines 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 are discussed.

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

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, we are delighted to welcome Gopal Khanal, who is currently working as Assistant Conservation Officer in Shey Phoksundo, the largest National Park of Nepal and home to a significant population of snow leopards. We also are 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 bridge past and present, with a special focus on community based conservation, through the lens of policy and research. We also look towards Nepal’s snow leopard conservation agenda for the next decade.