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Rosen T.,Wildlife Conservation Society | Hussain S.,Trinity College at Hartford | Mohammad G.,Project Snow Leopard | Jackson R.,Snow Leopard Conservancy | And 2 more authors.
Mountain Research and Development | Year: 2012

While the world is becoming increasingly interconnected and interdependent, physically and culturally, the wildlife of remote mountain regions is being affected both positively and negatively by such interconnectedness. In the case of snow leopards, the conservation impact has been largely, and rather unexpectedly, positive: Species-focused conservation projects, such as Project Snow Leopard (PSL) in Gilgit-Baltistan, remain mainly externally driven initiatives. PSL, initiated as a small pilot project in 1998, has relied on an approach that includes the use of an insurance scheme, the deployment of mitigation measures, and the empowerment of local governance. This approach has been successful in reducing the conflict with snow leopards and has built greater tolerance toward them. PSL is managed by local communities and cofinanced by them. PSL communities throughout the region are bearing the burden of carnivore conservation, and they are unwittingly subsidizing their populations by "feeding" them their livestock even though they are an economic threat to them. In this article, we argue that external intervention in the form of efforts that help alleviate the consequences of conflict through local empowerment have had a positive impact on the local mountain societies. We also show that such interventions have resulted in tangible conservation results, with the number of snow leopards staying at least stable. Our experience also shows that while the incentive component is critical, it is also part of a larger approachone that includes developing and supporting local governance structures, improving access to education, and offering a range of tools to reduce the conflict that can be implemented locally. Finally, we suggest that investing in this approachone that recognizes the species and local-context complexities surrounding the implementation of conservation incentivescan continue to inform international practices and guidelines for reducing humanwildlife conflicts worldwide. © International Mountain Society. Source

Anwar M.B.,Pmas Arid Agriculture University | Jackson R.,Snow Leopard Conservancy | Nadeem M.S.,Pmas Arid Agriculture University | Janecka J.E.,Texas A&M University | And 4 more authors.
European Journal of Wildlife Research | Year: 2011

The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) inhabits the high, remote mountains of Pakistan from where very little information is available on prey use of this species. Our study describes the food habits of the snow leopard in the Himalayas and Karakoram mountain ranges in Baltistan, Pakistan. Ninety-five putrid snow leopard scats were collected from four sites in Baltistan. Of these, 49 scats were genetically confirmed to have originated from snow leopards. The consumed prey was identified on the basis of morphological characteristics of hairs recovered from the scats. It was found that most of the biomass consumed (70%) was due to domestic livestock viz. sheep (23%), goat (16%), cattle (10%), yak (7%), and cattle-yak hybrids (14%). Only 30% of the biomass was due to wild species, namely Siberian ibex (21%), markhor (7%), and birds (2%). Heavy predation on domestic livestock appeared to be the likely cause of conflict with the local inhabitants. Conservation initiatives should focus on mitigating this conflict by minimizing livestock losses. © 2011 Springer-Verlag. Source

Janecka J.E.,Texas A&M University | Munkhtsog B.,Mongolian Academy of science | Jackson R.M.,Snow Leopard Conservancy | Naranbaatar G.,Mongolian Academy of science | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Mammalogy | Year: 2011

The endangered snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is widely but sparsely distributed throughout the mountainous regions of central Asia. Detailed information on the status and abundance of the snow leopard is limited because of the logistical challenges faced when working in the rugged terrain it occupies, along with its secretive nature. Camera-trapping and noninvasive genetic techniques have been used successfully to survey this felid. We compared noninvasive genetic and camera-trapping snow leopard surveys in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. We collected 180 putative snow leopard scats from 3 sites during an 8-day period along 37.74 km of transects. We then conducted a 65-day photographic survey at 1 of these sites, approximately 2 months after scat collection. In the site where both techniques were used noninvasive genetics detected 5 individuals in only 2 days of fieldwork compared to 7 individuals observed in the 65-day camera-trapping session. Estimates of population size from noninvasive genetics ranged between 16 and 19 snow leopards in the 314.3-km 2 area surveyed, yielding densities of 4.95.9 individuals/100 km 2. In comparison, the population estimate from the 65-day photographic survey was 4 individuals (adults only) within the 264-km 2 area, for a density estimate of 1.5 snow leopards/100 km 2. Higher density estimates from the noninvasive genetic survey were due partly to an inability to determine age and exclude subadults, reduced spatial distribution of sampling points as a consequence of collecting scats along linear transects, and deposition of scats by multiple snow leopards on common sites. Resulting differences could inflate abundance estimated from noninvasive genetic surveys and prevent direct comparison of densities derived from the 2 approaches unless appropriate adjustments are made to the study design. © 2011 American Society of Mammalogists. Source

Jackson R.M.,Snow Leopard Conservancy
Human Dimensions of Wildlife | Year: 2015

Over the past decade important advances have been made toward addressing human–wildlife conflict associated with the endangered snow leopard (Panthera uncia). Engaging and motivating stakeholders through more participatory protocols remains a vital ingredient toward the design, implementation, and of monitoring robust, long-lasting, and locally adapted solutions that stress the community’s collective and positive visions for the change. Co-existence with this predator can be best achieved by empowering rural communities and helping them forge more harmonious and eco-centric relationships with their environment, one in which snow leopards are perceived as valued assets rather than pests to be eliminated. The Global Snow Leopard Environmental Plan endorsed in 2013 by all 12 snow leopard range countries offers a possible blueprint for this transformational process to take place. The major challenge rests with securing the necessary financing and the scaling up of remedial interventions to landscape levels across the range states. Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Source

Janecka J.E.,Texas A&M University | Janecka J.E.,Duquesne University | Jackson R.,Snow Leopard Conservancy | Munkhtsog B.,Mongolian Academy of science | Murphy W.J.,Texas A&M University
Conservation Genetics Resources | Year: 2014

Molecular markers that can effectively identify noninvasively collected samples and provide genetic information are critical for understanding the distribution, status, and ecology of snow leopards (Panthera uncia). However, the low DNA quantity and quality in many noninvasive samples such as scats makes PCR amplification and genotyping challenging. We therefore designed primers for 9 microsatellites loci previously isolated in the domestic cat (Felis catus) specifically for snow leopard studies using noninvasive samples. The loci showed moderate levels of variation in two Mongolian snow leopard populations. Combined with seven other loci that we previously described, they have sufficient variation (He = 0.504, An = 3.6) for individual identification and population structure analysis. We designed a species-specific PCR assay using cytochrome b for identification of unknown snow leopard samples. These molecular markers facilitate in depth studies to assess distribution, abundance, population structure, and landscape connectivity of this endangered species. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Source

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