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Background on snow leopard and research activities for the Biosphere Expeditions snow leopard conservation project in the Altai Republic, Central Asia (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/altai).

Background on snow leopard and research activities for the Biosphere Expeditions snow leopard conservation project in the Altai Republic, Central Asia (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/altai).

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    Snow leopard background Snow leopard background Presentation Transcript

    • Mountain ghosts:snow leopards and otheranimals in the mountains ofthe Altai Republic, Central Asia
    • • Facts about snow leopards & conservation goals• Threats to snow leopards• Types of surveys to monitor snow leopards
    • Snow leopards ( Panthera uncia ) occur in the high mountains ofCentral Asia. Their range covers 2 million square km. Thepopulation is an estimated 4080 – 6590 snow leopards across 12countries AREA OF HABITAT COUNTRY (km²) ESTIMATED POPULATION Afghanistan 80.000 100 - 200 Bhutan 10.000 100 China 400.000 2.000 - 2.500 India 95.000 200 - 600 Mongolia 130.000 1.000 Nepal 30.000 350 - 500 Pakistan 80.000 250 - 420 Russia 131.000 50 - 150 Kazakhstan 71.000 180 - 200 Kyrgyzstan 126.000 800 - 1.400 Tajikistan 78.000 120 -300 (650) Uzbekistan 14.000 10 -50 Smirnov et al. (1990 ) estimated about 80 snow leopards in southern Siberia. These southern Siberian snow leopards seem to be isolated from those of Central Asia. Former estimations of the mean density per 100 km² were about 0.75 to 1.5
    • Estimated snow leopard population by country.The elusive nature of the species makes it difficult toobtain an accurate population count.
    • The IUCN classified the snow leopard as „endangered species“ ( high risk of extinction in the wild) To actually survey the status of this elusive animal is a big challenge as „the snow leopard inhabits the world‘s highestand perhaps most forbidding terrain, with difficulton the ground access and additionally plagued bysmall sample size.“IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
    • OUR MAIN GOAL:To ensure and promote the snow leopard‘s long-term conservation:E) a system of protected areasG) elimination wild herbivore competition through increasing livestock herdsC) mitigation of the conflict with herders as a result of depredationEvaluation of WWF‘s SL conservation activities
    • Snow leopard appearance:dense and wully fur ♂ 30 % larger than ♀ thick furry tail forwith white yellowishgrey pattern balancing and keepingsurrounded by dark warm when restingspots or rosettes 35 – 55 kg up to 60 cm tall 1.8 – 2.3 m long (head to tip of tail ) large paws to walk on snow short forelimbs, long hind limbs (for steep terrain) enlarged nasal Powerful lungs to get cavity to warm enough oxygen at high cold breathing air altitude
    • Snow leopard appearance:SL can’t roar, ( new studies show that the ability to roar is due tomorphological features, especially of the larynx, which are absent inthe snow leopard.)Snow leopard vocalisations: hisses, chuffing, mews, growls, andwailing.Unusually among cats, their eyes are palegreen or gray in colour. can leap up to 6x its body height
    • Sexually mature 2- 3 yearsMate in late winter, marked by a noticeable increase in marking and calling.Gestation period 90–100 days, cubs are born between April -JuneGive birth in a rocky den or crevice lined with fur shed from mother’s underside.1- 5 (2.2) cubs with black spots (turn into rosettes when they grow up) weaned by10 weeksCubs leave den at 2- 4 monthRemain with mother until 18–22 months.(then disperse over considerable distances, even crossing wide expanses of flatterrain to seek out new hunting grounds to reduce inbreeding)
    • Snow leopard behaviour • Most active at dusk and dawn • Solitary (pairing up during mating season, mother and cubs stay together) • Snow leopards can‘t roar but hiss, growl, moan and they can prusten through their nostrils • Mark their territory: scrape, spray urine, leave faeces as markers ( along topographic features ), claw raking„very little is known about thebehaviour, movements, home range,social organisation and reproductionin the wild“ (Sunquist & Sunquist2002)
    • Snow leopard prey IBEX ARGALI (Capra sibirica) (Ovis ammun) BLUE SHEEP (Pseudois nayaur) ROE DEER(Capreolus capreolus)
    • Smaller prey such asPIKA MARMOT HARE PARTRIDGE SNOWCOCK
    • Threats to snow leopards• Poaching: snow leopards are poached for their valuable pelt, bones and body parts, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine (but fur trade has declined due to international regulations)
    • • Retribution killing from herders 5. Habitat and prey loss4. Insufficient conservation due to lack of awareness, policy and money
    • Human/herders pushingfurther intomountain areas Overgrazing fragmentation of the land Less food for wild prey animals More predation on livestock
    • Video über schneeleosSave the Snow Leopard_2kurz.wmv
    • To really judge the effectiveness of conservationinvestments, it is essential to monitor the target species,prey animal population and the quality of their habitat.1990 the „Snow Leopard Trust“ developed a standardised field survey method „SLIMS“ (snow leopard information management system)a computerised database on SL populations, protected areas and key habitatattributes
    • Types of surveys to monitor snow leopardsWhat kind of information do we wantto gather? • SL distribution pattern • SL behaviour • SL home range • SL social organisation • SL reproduction • SL movements
    • 3 methods to survey SL population• Presence/absence• Relative abundance due to „sign transects“• Absolute abundance with camera trapping and genotyping (scat/ hair)
    • • Presence/absence (detection/non detection)•Establishes the presence or absence of SL and prey (indirectsigns)•Identifies habitat types•Undertakes a basic assessment of conservation needs•Wide ranging investigationsi.e. presence/absence is used to find out if a given area (national park,…) is populated by SL at allIt is based on searching for indirect signs and interviewing locals Determing the presence of snow leopards Establishing the absence of snow leopards
    • b) Relative abundance based on „sign transect“• Is used to monitor SL abundance in a particular area• Provides detailed information about SL, its prey and habitat• Gains data about status, relative abundance, distribution of SL• Intensive, quantitative, time-consuming investigations• SL signs are detected along transects (within representative sections of an area)• Concurrently recording signs of ungulates (primary prey species)
    • Grafik Seite 19 Conservation Handbook 1
    • c) Absolute abundance camera trapping and DNA genotyping (scat/hair)• Detects and distinguishes individuals from each other• Assesses population‘s genetic variability• Evaluates what proportion of an area is occupied• Determines abundance in different areas or within a given area over time• Evaluates the impacts of prey or habitat change on SL presence, relative abundance or density
    • What we will do:•Walk transects and record: signs of SL habitat signs of prey•Install and check camera traps•Interview locals•Collect scat