Snow leopard conservation in Nepal


This 2017 video says about itself:

SNOW LEOPARD in the Nepal Himalaya

A short documentary on Snow Leopards, from our fieldwork in Nyeshyang valley, Annapurna region, Nepal. Turn up your sound and watch in full screen!

From the University of Cambridge in England:

Understanding local attitudes to snow leopards vital for their ongoing protection

October 23, 2019

Summary: Local people in the Nepal Himalayas value snow leopards as much for the potential personal benefits they gain from the animals’ conservation as they do for the intrinsic value of this charismatic species.

The team of researchers found that local attitudes towards the snow leopard were strongly linked to local views on the conservation methods used to protect them.

Snow leopards (Panthera uncia) are considered a ‘vulnerable species’, with an estimated 4,000 left in the wild, and Protected Areas have been created to safeguard their habitat. However, the animals range over much larger areas, and successful co-existence with humans is key to their survival. The potential for Protected Areas to restrict, as well as benefit, local livelihoods makes it imperative to consider how snow leopard conservation measures are perceived by inhabitants and neighbours of these areas.

“The snow leopard faces many threats to its survival. For conservation measures to succeed, they have to work for local people too, so humans and snow leopards can successfully co-exist. Wildlife conservation is a social process, as well as a scientific one,” said Jonathan Hanson, a PhD student in the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge, who led the study.

The researchers gathered information through a questionnaire to 705 households in two Protected Areas in the Nepal Himalayas where snow leopards and humans co-exist: Sagarmatha National Park — dominated by Mount Everest — and the Annapurna Conservation Area.

Local people in these areas gave a wide range of reasons for their feelings towards snow leopards. Those who felt negatively were mostly worried about co-existing with this top predator, and its potential danger to their livestock. Local herders can occasionally kill snow leopards in retaliation for their livestock being preyed upon. Positive attitudes towards snow leopards were most commonly driven by cultural beliefs in the intrinsic value of the species, and by its perceived beneficial impacts, such as attracting tourists and controlling wild herbivores.

The study revealed positive local attitudes to a range of conservation measures used to protect the snow leopards at both study sites. These measures included bans on the killing of the leopards and their prey, livestock compensation schemes, and environmental education activities.

In contrast, local people were more opposed to conservation measures they perceived would restrict their own livelihoods, such as limits on the collection of wood. The tourism industry, cited by many as a reason to support snow leopard conservation because of the revenue it brings, also puts pressure on forest wood supplies as fuel for tourist lodges.

Those who felt positively about conserving the leopards were driven by the same beliefs in the intrinsic value of the species and of the need to conserve it, but put even greater emphasis on the range of benefits they could gain from conservation measures.

Numbers of livestock owned per household, years of education, household livelihoods and age were found to be important in explaining particular attitudes.

“There is often a mismatch between the meaning and significance of ‘wildness’ to local societies and to outside conservationists,” said Hanson. “This new work shows that the success of future snow leopard conservation efforts depends not only on the right scientific approach, but on the attitudes of locals to the species and to the conservation measures being put in place to protect it.”

The Annapurna Conservation Area in north-central Nepal is the country’s largest Protected Area. The local people here participate in a decentralised conservation management regime involving a large amount of local participation and revenue sharing. Their attitudes to snow leopards have greatly improved since first being measured in 1993: the percentage of respondents who said they felt very negative towards the animals has fallen from over 60% to 4%. Attitudes were similar in Sagarmatha National Park, in the north-eastern part of the country, where conservation governance has also become increasingly decentralised since 2002.

This is the largest study of local attitudes towards snow leopards, and the first to comprehensively consider attitudes towards their conservation. The snow leopard is a vulnerable species of wild cat that lives in the mountains of Central Asia across 12 countries including Nepal. The many threats to its survival include loss of prey and habitat, infrastructure, energy and mining developments, the illegal wildlife trade, and climate change.

Red fox, snow leopard in the Himalayas


This 19 September 2019 video from the Himalayas in India says about itself:

A red fox stumbles across a treasure trove of nutrition: the carcass of a freshly killed yak. But nearby tracks reveal that its killer isn’t far away – and wouldn’t take kindly to an intruder.

Snow leopard in the Himalayas, video


This 14 June 2019 video says about itself:

Snow Leopard Hunts in the Himalayas | China’s Wild Side

When a snow leopard wants to eat, it must scale cliffs to find its meal.

I was in snow leopard territory in China, but did not see these cats, only their blue sheep prey.

Snow leopards, video


This 5 April 2019 video says about itself:

Snow Leopards 101 | Nat Geo Wild

Snow leopards are one of the world’s most elusive cats. Learn how these “mountain ghosts” are perfectly equipped to thrive in extreme, high-elevation habitats, and how they expertly hunt agile prey.

Four baby snow leopards in Mongolia


This January 2017 camera trap video shows a snow leopard with four babies in Mongolia. Four young snow leopards is very rare.

A recent research paper reveals that there are three sub-species of snow leopard. Until now, researchers had assumed this species, Panthera uncia, was monotypic: here.

Snow leopard video


This video says about itself:

21 December 2016

Join the Planet Earth II crew behind the scenes as they try and track down one of the rarest and most elusive big cats – the snow leopard.

Planet Earth II is a BBC Studios Natural History Unit production, co-produced with BBC America, ZDF, Tencent and France Télévisions.

Second snow leopard gets collar in Nepal


This video says about itself:

4 June 2015

A second snow leopard was collared in Kangchenjunga by the government of Nepal, supported by WWF, National Trust for Nature Conservation, Kangchenjunga Conservation Area Project, Kangchenjunga Conservation Area Management Council and local citizen scientists, on May 21, 2105.

The 5-year-old male was fitted with a collar that has satellite-GPS technology which will help conservationists track their movement patterns, habitat use and preferences to inform strategies like transboundary efforts to save this elusive species. The snow leopard was named “Omikhangri” after a mountain near the collaring location.

Nepal collared the first snow leopard using satellite-GPS technology in November 2013.

From Wildlife Extra:

Second snow leopard successfully collared in Nepal

A snow leopard has been successfully collared in the shadow of Nepal’s Kangchenjunga, the world’s second highest mountain just a month after the country was hit with a devastating earthquake. This is the second snow leopard to be collared in Nepal since 2013.

The snow leopard, which is an adult male approximately five years of age weighing 41 kg, was and fitted with a GPS-satellite collar and released back into the wild. Data received from the satellite collar will enable conservationists to identify critical habitats for the elusive species, including transboundary links across India and China.

“Nepal is proud to be at the forefront of global scientific efforts to get a better understanding of one of nature’s most elusive species,” stated Tika Ram Adhikari, Director General of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. “Our ability to repeat the success we had with the first collaring in 2013 during this most difficult period for the country is a testament to the commitment towards conservation of the government as well as the people of Nepal.”

The collaring expedition was led by the Government of Nepal in partnership with WWF, National Trust for Nature Conservation, Kangchenjunga Conservation Area Project, Kangchenjunga Conservation Area Management Council and citizen scientists from the local Snow Leopard Conservation Committee. The latter were especially vital in helping identify snow leopard hotspots and managing local logistics.

“As a science-based conservation organization, WWF was delighted to partner with the government of Nepal on applying new technologies to help us gain a better understanding of snow leopards,” said Anil Manandhar, Country Representative of WWF-Nepal. “We continue to be inspired by our grassroots partners in Kangchenjunga—one of the poorest and least accessible places in Nepal—to save snow leopards and other magnificent species that could easily be lost without their stewardship. This project is a powerful example of what we can make possible together.”

The existing snow leopard conservation projects in Kangchenjunga Conservation Area include snow leopard monitoring using camera traps and prey-base monitoring with the partnership of local citizen scientists and Snow Leopard Conservation Committees, a population genetic study using fecal DNA, and a livestock insurance scheme built at reducing human-snow leopard conflict.

There are an estimated 350-590 snow leopards in Nepal according to 2009 population data on the species.

SNOW LEOPARDS ARE INCREASINGLY ENDANGERED Thanks, climate change. [HuffPost]

Hunters Become Conservationists in the Fight to Protect the Snow Leopard. A pioneering program recruits locals as rangers in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, where the elusive cat is battling for survival: here.
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Snow leopard discovery in Siberia


This video is called Silent Roar: Searching for the Snow Leopard (HD Nature Documentary).

From Wildlife Extra:

Photo proof of snow leopards in newly created refuge in Siberia

Camera trap images have been taken of snow leopards in the newly created National Park of Sylyugem National Park in the Altai mountains of Siberia.

Aleksei Kuzhlekov, a national park researcher, reports that, “four pictures of snow leopard were taken at different times, probably of three or four individuals”.

The Saylyugem National Park was created five years ago to protect wildlife in that region of Siberia, especially the snow leopard and argali mountain sheep, in an area totaling 118,380 hectares.

The creation of the reserve was much needed, because poachers had killed more than 10 snow leopards in the area in the 1990s alone, to sell their pelts and body parts on the black market for Chinese medicine.

The snow leopard is in the endangered category on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species with as few as 4,000 left in the world, of which only 2,500 are likely to be breeding.

The head of the local conservation department, Igor Ivanitsky, adds: “We were able to place the cameras in the right place by painstakingly working out the movements routes of the cats.

“Being then so successful with our camera trapping efforts tells us that the park is their main home and hunting ground.

“Park staff have also found snow leopard tracks and scats (droppings) in several places around the national park, giving further evidence that the big cats are thriving in their newly created refuge.”

Dr. Matthias Hammer, Executive Director of Biosphere Expeditions, which assisted in the creation of the new National Park says he is delighted with the news.

“We spent ten years working in the Altai, researching snow leopard presence, building local capacity and trying to create economic incentives for local people to keep their snow leopard neighbours alive.

“When we started, there was no national park, little awareness, research or infrastructure, and rampant poaching.

“Now we have a national park, national park staff, anti-poaching patrols, several research initiatives, much more awareness and many ways for local people to benefit from the presence of the snow leopard.

“Poaching continues to be a threat, as is the Altai gas pipeline, but all in all this is a remarkable turnaround and success story, and we are very proud to have played our part in this.

“We’ve had many successes through citizen science voluntourism over the years and this is yet another excellent illustration of how citizen science-led conservation expeditions can make a genuine difference.”

For more information visit Sailugemsky National Park and Biosphere Expeditions.

Snow leopards on camera in Uzbekistan, first time


This video from India is called Silent Roar: Searching for the Snow Leopard (Nature Documentary).

From Wildlife Extra:

Snow leopards caught on camera in Uzbekistan for the first time

January 2014: Newly obtained camera trap images have provided the very first photographic evidence of snow leopards in the central Asian country of Uzbekistan.

In November and December of 2013, a team of rangers and biologists led by Bakhtiyor Aromov and Yelizaveta Protas, in collaboration with global wild cat conservation organization, Panthera, and WWF Central Asia Programme, conducted a snow leopard camera trap study in the Kizilsu area of Gissar Nature Reserve, on the border of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Images taken through the study have confirmed the presence of at least two individual snow leopards in the region, along with other large predators – lynx and bear – and an abundance of prey animals, including ibex, wild boar, and hare.

Today, the snow leopard is classified as endangered, with as few as 3,500-7,000 individuals remaining in 12 countries across Asia. For years, snow leopards have been reported in this area of Uzbekistan but, until now, their presence has only been confirmed through traditional surveys and very rare visual encounters.

Panthera’s Snow Leopard Programme Executive Director, Dr Tom McCarthy, stated: “It is very exciting to document snow leopards within the Gissar Nature Reserve in Uzbekistan using camera trap technology. Panthera has provided over 300 camera traps through partnerships such as this to better document the range of this elusive and endangered cat of central Asia’s mountains. With an improved understanding of their range and numbers we have a better chance to save them.”

Situated on the western edge of the Pamir mountain range, the Gissar Nature Reserve serves as the largest protected area in Uzbekistan, strictly guarded by border patrols and reserve rangers, with visitors allowed only for scientific research. The reserve protects several species of rare and endangered animals, including the snow leopard, lynx, Himalayan brown bear and otter, which are listed in the Red Book of Uzbekistan and the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

Formerly part of the great Silk Road and Soviet Union, the reserve has more recently been home to armed conflicts resulting from the dissolution of the USSR and formation of newly independent states in the 1990s. Fortunately, this strife resulted in even stricter protection for the reserve.

Alexandr Grigoryants, Executive Director of the State Biocontrol Agency of the Republic of Uzbekistan, commented: “The State Biocontrol Agency of the Republic of Uzbekistan is particularly focused on the protection and increasing the numbers of rare and endangered fauna in Uzbekistan. Thanks to the hard work of the reserve employees, and with the active help of state protection officers and international conservation organizations, such as WWF, UNDP, Panthera and others, the population numbers of endangered animals in Uzbekistan will increase.”

The confirmed presence of snow leopards in Uzbekistan, in the westernmost part of the species’ range, and the availability of prey as confirmed through this study’s camera trap images, provides hope for the survival of this endangered wild cat in Uzbekistan and throughout its range.

Rare Pictures: Snow Leopards Caught in Camera Trap. Endangered big cats photographed in northern Pakistan: here.