Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

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Johansson T.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | McCarthy T.,Panthera | Samelius G.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | Andren H.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | And 3 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2015

Livestock predation is an important cause of endangerment of the snow leopard (. Panthera uncia) across its range. Yet, detailed information on individual and spatio-temporal variation in predation patterns of snow leopards and their kill rates of livestock and wild ungulates are lacking.We collared 19 snow leopards in the Tost Mountains, Mongolia, and searched clusters of GPS positions to identify prey remains and estimate kill rate and prey choice.Snow leopards killed, on average, one ungulate every 8. days, which included more wild prey (73%) than livestock (27%), despite livestock abundance being at least one order of magnitude higher. Predation on herded livestock occurred mainly on stragglers and in rugged areas where animals are out of sight of herders. The two wild ungulates, ibex (. Capra ibex) and argali (. Ovis ammon), were killed in proportion to their relative abundance. Predation patterns changed with spatial (wild ungulates) and seasonal (livestock) changes in prey abundance. Adult male snow leopards killed larger prey and 2-6 times more livestock compared to females and young males. Kill rates were considerably higher than previous scat-based estimates, and kill rates of females were higher than kill rates of males. We suggest that (i) snow leopards prey largely on wild ungulates and kill livestock opportunistically, (ii) retaliatory killing by livestock herders is likely to cause greater mortality of adult male snow leopards compared to females and young males, and (iii) total off-take of prey by a snow leopard population is likely to be much higher than previous estimates suggest. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


Johansson O.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | Rauset G.R.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | Samelius G.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | McCarthy T.,Panthera | And 4 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2016

Conserving large carnivores in an increasingly crowded planet raises difficult challenges. A recurring debate is whether large carnivores can be conserved in human used landscapes (land sharing) or whether they require specially designated areas (land sparing). Here we show that 40% of the 170 protected areas in the global range of the snow leopard (Panthera uncia) are smaller than the home range of a single adult male and only 4–13% are large enough for a 90% probability of containing 15 or more adult females. We used data from 16 snow leopards equipped with GPS collars in the Tost Mountains of South Gobi, Mongolia, to calculate home range size and overlap using three different estimators: minimum convex polygons (MCP), kernel utility distributions (Kernel), and local convex hulls (LoCoH). Local convex hull home ranges were smaller and included lower proportions of unused habitats compared to home ranges based on minimum convex polygons and Kernels. Intra-sexual home range overlap was low, especially for adult males, suggesting that snow leopards are territorial. Mean home range size based on the LoCoH estimates was 207 km2 ± 63 SD for adult males and 124 km2 ± 41 SD for adult females. Our estimates were 6–44 times larger than earlier estimates based on VHF technology when comparing similar estimators, i.e. MCP. Our study illustrates that protected areas alone will not be able to conserve predators with large home ranges and conservationists and managers should not restrict their efforts to land sparing. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd


Johansson O.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | Malmsten J.,National Veterinary Institute | Malmsten J.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | Mishra C.,Snow Leopard Trust | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Diseases | Year: 2013

Conservation and research of the elusive snow leopard (Panthera uncia) have been hampered by inadequate knowledge about its basic life history. Global positioning system (GPS) collars can provide useful information, but there has been limited information available on safe capture methods, drug doses, and efficacy for effective immobilization of free-ranging snow leopards. We describe a drug protocol using a combination of medetomidine and tiletamine-zolazepam for the chemical immobilization of free-ranging snow leopards. We also describe physiologic responses to immobilization drugs, including rectal temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, and relative hemoglobin oxygen saturation (SpO2) recorded every 10 min. Our study was carried out in the Tost Mountains adjacent to the Great Gobi Desert, in southern Mongolia, between August 2008 and April 2012. Eighteen snow leopards were captured or recaptured with foot-snares on 42 occasions and anesthetized for marking with GPS collars. The snow leopards received on average (±SD) 0.020±0.04 mg/kg body mass medetomidine and 2.17±0.45 mg/kg tiletamine-zolazepam. The duration of ensuing anesthesia was 69±13 min, including an induction period of 10 (±4) min. Anesthesia was reversed with 4 mg (0.10±0.04 mg/kg) atipamezole administered intramuscularly. The mean value for SpO2 for the 37 captures where we could record physiologic values was 91±4. The SpO2 increased significantly during anesthesia (+0.06±0.02%/min), whereas rectal temperature (average 38.1±0.7 C/min, change -0.04±0.003 C/min), heart rate (average 97±9 beats/min, change -0.20±0.03 beats/min), and respiratory rate (average 26±6 breaths/min, change -0.11±0.03 breaths/min) decreased significantly. A dose of 80 mg tiletamine-zolazepam (2 mg/kg body weight) and 0.72 mg medetomidine (0.02 mg/kg body weight) safely immobilized all adult and subadult snow leopards (weight 25-45 kg) in our study. All measured physiologic values remained within clinically acceptable limits. © Wildlife Disease Association 2013.


Tumursukh L.,Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation | Suryawanshi K.R.,Snow Leopard Trust | Mishra C.,Snow Leopard Trust | McCarthy T.M.,Panthera | Boldgiv B.,National University of Mongolia
ORYX | Year: 2015

The availability of wild prey is a critical predictor of carnivore density. However, few conservation programmes have focused on the estimation and monitoring of wild ungulate populations and their trends, especially in the remote mountains of Central Asia. We conducted double-observer surveys to estimate the populations of ibex Capra sibirica and argali Ovis ammon in the mountainous regions of Tost Local Protected Area, South Gobi province, Mongolia, which is being considered for designation as a Nature Reserve. We also conducted demographic surveys of the more abundant ibex to examine their sex-ratio and the survival of young during 2012–2013. The estimated ibex population remained stable in 2012 and 2013 and the estimated argali population increased from 108 in 2012 to 230 in 2013. The biomass of wild ungulates was c. 6% that of livestock. Mortality in young ibex appeared to increase after weaning, at the age of 12 months. We estimated the population of wild ungulates was sufficient to support 14–18 adult snow leopards Panthera uncia. The adult snow leopard population in our study area during 2012–2013, estimated independently using camera-trap-based mark–recapture methods, was 12–14. Based on our results we identify the Tost Local Protected Area as an important habitat for the conservation of these ungulates and their predator, the Endangered snow leopard, and recommend elevation of its status to a Nature Reserve. Copyright © Fauna & Flora International 2015


Sharma K.,Snow Leopard Trust | Sharma K.,Nature Conservation Foundation | Bayrakcismith R.,Panthera | Tumursukh L.,Snow Leopard Trust | And 8 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Population monitoring programmes and estimation of vital rates are key to understanding the mechanisms of population growth, decline or stability, and are important for effective conservation action. We report, for the first time, the population trends and vital rates of the endangered snow leopard based on camera trapping over four years in the Tost Mountains, South Gobi, Mongolia. We used robust design multi-season mark-recapture analysis to estimate the trends in abundance, sex ratio, survival probability and the probability of temporary emigration and immigration for adult and young snow leopards. The snow leopard population remained constant over most of the study period, with no apparent growth (λ = 1.08+-0.25). Comparison of model results with the "known population" of radio-collared snow leopards suggested high accuracy in our estimates. Although seemingly stable, vigorous underlying dynamics were evident in this population, with the adult sex ratio shifting from being male-biased to female-biased (1.67 to 0.38 males per female) during the study. Adult survival probability was 0.82 (SE+-0.08) and that of young was 0.83 (SE+-0.15) and 0.77 (SE + -0.2) respectively, before and after the age of 2 years. Young snow leopards showed a high probability of temporary emigration and immigration (0.6, SE +-0.19 and 0.68, SE +-0.32 before and after the age of 2 years) though not the adults (0.02 SE+-0.07). While the current female-bias in the population and the number of cubs born each year seemingly render the study population safe, the vigorous dynamics suggests that the situation can change quickly. The reduction in the proportion of male snow leopards may be indicative of continuing anthropogenic pressures. Our work reiterates the importance of monitoring both the abundance and population dynamics of species for effective conservation. © 2014 Sharma et al.


PubMed | Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation, Nature Conservation Foundation, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Panthera
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2014

Population monitoring programmes and estimation of vital rates are key to understanding the mechanisms of population growth, decline or stability, and are important for effective conservation action. We report, for the first time, the population trends and vital rates of the endangered snow leopard based on camera trapping over four years in the Tost Mountains, South Gobi, Mongolia. We used robust design multi-season mark-recapture analysis to estimate the trends in abundance, sex ratio, survival probability and the probability of temporary emigration and immigration for adult and young snow leopards. The snow leopard population remained constant over most of the study period, with no apparent growth (=1.08+-0.25). Comparison of model results with the known population of radio-collared snow leopards suggested high accuracy in our estimates. Although seemingly stable, vigorous underlying dynamics were evident in this population, with the adult sex ratio shifting from being male-biased to female-biased (1.67 to 0.38 males per female) during the study. Adult survival probability was 0.82 (SE+-0.08) and that of young was 0.83 (SE+-0.15) and 0.77 (SE +-0.2) respectively, before and after the age of 2 years. Young snow leopards showed a high probability of temporary emigration and immigration (0.6, SE +-0.19 and 0.68, SE +-0.32 before and after the age of 2 years) though not the adults (0.02 SE+-0.07). While the current female-bias in the population and the number of cubs born each year seemingly render the study population safe, the vigorous dynamics suggests that the situation can change quickly. The reduction in the proportion of male snow leopards may be indicative of continuing anthropogenic pressures. Our work reiterates the importance of monitoring both the abundance and population dynamics of species for effective conservation.

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