Graphic by Annabel Driussi for ODP

by Amy Lupica, ODP Employees Author

Mongolia has launched its first nationwide snow leopard survey and the outcomes are hopeful. Because of the survey, conservationists now know that Mongolia has about 953 snow leopards, whose numbers have been lowering resulting from habitat fragmentation and clashes with people. 

This survey, carried out by WWF-Mongolia and companions together with Snow Leopard Conservation Basis, Snow Leopard Belief, Irbis Mongolia Middle, can be used to advise future conservation efforts to bolster not solely snow leopards, however excessive mountain biodiversity ecosystems as properly.

Why This Issues: Snow leopards are apex predators, thus their conservation by way of higher knowledge helps shield their complete ecosystem.  Their numbers can be used as litmus exams for a way Himalayan ecosystems are functioning and the place stresses lie. But warming temperatures threaten the species’ frigid habitat: in keeping with WWF, impacts from local weather change might cut back the variety of snow leopards by 30% within the Himalayas alone. 

The snow leopard’s vary isn’t simply essential to the survival of native species, but in addition the people who make the area their house. Thousands and thousands of individuals depend on these excessive mountains as a supply of water, and if that water turns into threatened by ecological imbalance, people might face devastating droughts. 

Counting Snow Leopards: The survey took greater than 4 years from begin to end. Greater than 40 subject surveys had been carried out by over 500 staff from companion organizations and native communities. As a result of species’ glorious pure camouflage and solitary conduct, researchers ensured a correct rely by collaring 15 leopards and inserting 1,475 digicam traps throughout 29 mountains. After 4 years of effort, the survey discovered that about 953 particular person leopards, starting from 806 to 1127, presently roam Mongolia, spanning an roughly 328,900 sq. kilometer space of Altai, Sayan, Khangai Mountain ranges.

Gantulga B., Species Officer, WWF-Mongolia, emphasised the size of the survey.:

Snow leopard signal survey has coated 406,800 sq. kilometer space of 10 provinces in Mongolia that snow leopard might inhabit, which is without doubt one of the largest surveys ever completed on snow leopards,” he mentioned. “The evaluation delivers scientific, sturdy, and dependable outcomes about snow leopard which is essential for the efficient conservation planning of the species and its house, the excessive mountain ecosystem.”

An Uphill Battle: Even after the success of the survey, specialists say there may be nonetheless a lot work to be completed. At the moment, about 4,080 to six,590 snow leopards roam 12 nations, however their numbers are dropping resulting from local weather change and poaching, and human growth has saved populations aside. WWF-Mongolia works with companion organizations within the space to combat poaching, forestall retaliatory killings by farming communities, and shield ecosystems essential to water provides.

Different nations have additionally taken related efforts.

  • Bhutan and Russia have additionally accomplished nationwide snow leopard surveys.
  • All three surveys are in step with targets set in 2017 throughout a summit of The International Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Safety Program and 12 snow leopard vary governments. Underneath the settlement, all 12 nations should full surveys of their very own by 2022.

For now, WWF-Mongolia and its companions are excited to make use of its survey to energy additional conservation.

WWF-US Senior Director for Asian Species, Dechen Dorji, says, “due to a extremely devoted workforce of specialists and their 4 lengthy years of laborious work, we could be excited and longing for the way forward for snow leopards in Mongolia. We now know the snow leopard inhabitants in Mongolia is steady and may measure future inhabitants modifications towards this baseline.”


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