Learning about the cats

Range countries agree on the goal of setting baselines and indicators to evaluate and map current status of key snow leopard habitats and populations against which to assess future change, conduct economic valuation of snow leopard habitats, and intensifying scientific research and monitoring to inform future policy and action.

These are all core principles of snow leopard conservation. All countries plan to develop and/or implement monitoring programs, most importantly to set baselines against which to measure conservation progress and to adapt conservation planning and management as needed. Topics of planned research activities include movement ecology of snow leopards and prey, climate change impacts, population dynamics, and disease.

The proposed GSC—Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation —supports this objective. This GSC, through inputs of the range countries, aims to arrive at agreeable and consistent methods, indicators, and periodicity of monitoring, and establishing mechanisms for data collation and sharing with the Secretariat, and a periodic joint evaluation.

Portfolio in research and monitoring

Country Objective Key Activities
Afghanistan Assess the status of mountains’ ungulate populations to inform future management activities. Use research techniques to estimate populations of the mountain ungulates. Regular monitoring of population trends; establishment. Establish a database of snow leopard prey species.
Determine snow leopard abundance and status in selected protected areas to inform future management activities. Use modern research techniques such as camera trapping, GPS collaring, and genetic studies.
Monitor and identify major threats to snow leopards, habitats, and prey species; identify human-snow leopard conflict hotspots. Assess current practices and areas for improvement. Develop monitoring indicators for snow leopards and prey species and a monitoring database. Share snow leopard monitoring data with the range countries. Estimate prey species populations.
Snow leopard collaring in Hindu Kush Range to obtain enough information about movements, home ranges, and habitat use to develop a model for overall population estimation throughout the snow leopard range in Afghanistan. Snow leopard collaring; GIS mapping of the collared cats; data analysis based on the satellite collar information.
Bhutan Conduct scientific monitoring of snow leopard, its habitat, prey, and threat. Conduct study on the movement ecology of snow leopard and its prey species. Conduct research on the impact of climate change on species conservation. Conduct research on the impact of cordyceps collection on the habitat and the species.
China Monitor the impact of global climate change on snow leopard habitat and biodiversity. Monitor climate and physical environment indicators in snow leopard habitat, monitor changes of snow leopard acting areas. Investigate and monitor biodiversity index, evaluate and monitor snow leopard food resource dynamics.
Identify snow leopard population status and distribution of snow leopard in China. Identify habitat important for snow leopards, assess and monitor snow leopard population based on present information.
Investigate and evaluate snow leopard prey and habitat quality, conserve and restore corridors for snow leopard reproduction and dispersal. Using camera trapping, DNA analysis technology and GPS-collaring to investigate snow leopard habitat structure and activity patterns, design corridors in snow leopard habitat, conduct snow leopard corridor conservation and restoration projects.
India Assess snow leopard abundances in selected landscape units/ sections to assess the status of populations. Use robust and modern techniques such as molecular tools and camera trapping for individual identification.
Inventory of habitats and clusters with high anthropogenic impact in the landscapes. Compile data on habitation, areas of high prey density, and areas of high occurrence.
Conduct scientific monitoring of snow leopards, habitat, and threats; identify current practice and areas for improvement. Set measurable targets, periodically monitor state thereof, and evaluate the impact of activities with respect to the objectives.
Identify priority snow leopard habitats on which to focus interventions. Survey of prey density and forage/ habitat parameters, including digital interpretation and ground surveys.
Kazakhstan Monitoring snow leopard populations. Develop a monitoring system with the help of key experts and local people. Initiate monitoring of 5 meta-populations of snow leopards and prey species.
Understanding impacts on snow leopard habitats. Understand the dynamics and impact of natural and anthropogenic factors. Conduct research and monitoring of snow leopard habitats and their degradation.
Kyrgyz Republic Development and implementation of monitoring system for snow leopards and prey. Attracting experts; creation of database platform. Develop normative act on monitoring system of snow leopards. Integrate accounting systems.
Monitoring of snow leopard population. Identify snow leopards with camera traps and with GPS collars. Monitor and locate snow leopards using GPS collars. Integrate expository measures on snow leopards, particularly by investigating illegally killed snow leopards . Use camera traps and genetic materials to identify individual snow leopards. Calculate prey population through surveys.
Mongolia Improve inventory and assessment of rare and very rare species. Assess status, distribution, and density of snow leopards and some of its prey species every four years and update conservation plans. Amendment is made in Mongolian wildlife law.
Nepal Developing long-term mechanism for conservation research and monitoring to understand snow leopard population dynamics, distribution, space and habitat-use pattern, and predator-prey relationships. Study population dynamics, distribution, and space/habitat-use pattern of snow leopards and their prey using cutting-edge technology. Develop mechanism to monitor potential impact of climate change on snow leopard, prey, and habitats.
Pakistan Enhance scientific knowledge of snow leopards, prey species, and habitat to conduct well-informed management actions. Assess snow leopard population using robust and modern techniques such as molecular tools and camera trapping for individual identification. Assess genetic limitations of the snow leopard population, connectivity among populations, and gene flow across landscapes. Assess resource selection by snow leopards and explore requirements for their survival. Implement robust estimation and monitoring of prey abundance, human and rangeland ecology studies, and monitoring systems for identifying and addressing key threats. Assess prevalence of disease in snow leopard habitat and risks to wildlife.
Conduct scientific monitoring of snow leopards, habitat, and threats. Set measurable targets, periodically monitor state thereof, and evaluate the impact of activities with respect to the objectives.
Russia Study of current snow leopard range and population dynamics. Study the snow leopard’s current range, populations, and other dynamics, and create improved maps of the species’ habitat distribution; study the roles of natural and anthropogenic factors in population dynamics and changes in snow leopard habitat; identify key sites for snow leopard reproduction.
Clarify the structure and spatial connections of key snow leopard populations. Clarify snow leopard population structure by using genetic analysis and other advanced techniques; study genetic relationships and the degree of genetic isolation of various snow leopard populations; identify potential migration corridors between snow leopard populations in Russia and western Mongolia, evaluate their significance for species conservation in Russia.
Collect data on health parameters of snow leopard and prey populations Veterinary research on snow leopards and prey species in various populations
Restoration of snow leopard populations. Develop programs for the restoration of snow leopard groupings or reintroduction of this species in habitats where poachers previously eradicated the cat
Tajikistan Identify and implement practices and tools to reduce consumption of teresken plant for fuel wood by local communities. (Teresken is a key staple in the diet of Marco Polo sheep.) Research on fuel consumption patterns and the potential demand for thermal insulation. Research on alternative fuels (firewood, coal, gas, solar energy, and hydropower). Research on the dissemination of energy-efficient technology.
Monitoring of snow leopards and their prey to understand predator-prey relationship and home range of snow leopards through collaring and non-invasive technologies. Place GPS collars on snow leopards in select sites (PA, hunting concession, and community-managed areas) to gain a better understanding of home range of snow leopards and to investigate kill sites. Camera-trap and collect samples to identify individual cats and estimate abundance. Survey prey populations through regular point- count surveys.
Uzbekistan Monitor snow leopards and prey. Monitoring of snow leopards and prey.
Global Support Component Enable consistent monitoring of program implementation, threats to snow leopards, and conservation status of snow leopards in key landscapes across the range countries. Identify indicators for consistent monitoring of the program worldwide. Establish a mechanism for data sharing with Secretariat. Follow consistent monitoring methods.Capacity enhancement in monitoring methods. Monitor data analysis and compilation. Data sharing. Evaluation.