Checking in with our field teams
Like many of you, in order to ensure the safety of ourselves and our communities, we are all finding ourselves adjusting to new recommendations and protocols of remaining home. Normally, many of our field staff are in remote, mountainous snow leopard habitat for long stretches of the year without access to regular communications channels. So we thought it would be a good opportunity to check in with them and share some of the important work they are doing to protect snow leopards.
We are hosting Live Events on our Facebook page to talk with some of our snow leopard experts about the conservation work they do. These live sessions are geared toward families who may be looking for some science content to add to their homeschool routines, but they are really for anyone who wants to learn about snow leopards, their habitat, and what is being done to protect them. Scroll down to view the entire archive of Snow Leopard Live Chats.
The Ecosystem Health Program
Tune in to learn about the Ecosystem Health Program from Dr. Ali Nawaz, Director of Snow Leopard Foundation Pakistan. This program aims to enhance community tolerance toward snow leopards by protecting livestock against major diseases and creating community-based veterinary services. Its overall conservation strategy is premised on institutional, technical, and financial aspects of sustainability. The program relies on strong local organization and trained community-based livestock workers in animal health and husbandry practices. A review of the program revealed at least a 50% reduction in disease-caused mortalities, and has shown an overall positive impact of livestock health on community well-being.
Dr. Ali Nawaz has a PhD in Ecology and an experience of 20 years in the field of wildlife research and conservation. He established the Snow Leopard Foundation in Pakistan, which is a partnership between the Snow Leopard Trust, Federal Ministry of Climate Change, provincial Wildlife Departments, and local communities. In recognition of Dr. Nawaz’s efforts to protect the endangered snow leopard in the mountains of northern Pakistan, HRH The Princess Royal presented him the 2016 Whitley Award, a prestigious international nature conservation prize.
Behind the Scenes with National Geographic
For over a hundred years, National Geographic has been transporting us to far-off lands, helping us unlock mysteries and develop a deep appreciation of our natural world. In July’s EVEREST issue, Nat Geo takes readers to the Roof of the World where the ghost of the mountain can be seen disappearing over the distant ridge line. This Snow Leopard Live Chat gives you the opportunity to leap beyond the pages of the magazine. You’ll be even further immersed in this landscape by joining a riveting conversation with Peter Gwin and Pransenjeet Yadav who wrote and photographed Nat Geo’s Himalaya Ghost Cat article.
A molecular biologist turned photographer, Prasenjeet Yadav focuses on natural history and science stories in Asia. Prasenjeet is passionate about storytelling and integrates science deeply into his photo stories. For every story, he collaborates with researchers, managers, policymakers, and conservationists. Peter Gwin has been a writer and editor for National Geographic magazine since 2003 and hosts the podcast Overheard. He has written on a wide range of subjects, from pirates in the Malacca Straits to lost Timbuktu manuscripts. In 2012 he was awarded the Overseas Press Club’s Whitman Bassow Award for best Environmental Reporting.
A Cat in the Corral
What happens when news of a snow leopard stuck in a corral travels halfway around the world? Such stories aren’t uncommon in remote snow leopard landscapes, making the need for authentic engagement with local communities critical to the success of conservation efforts. Based on over three decades of experience, the Snow Leopard Trust and partners have outlined a set of guidelines, called PARTNERS Principles, that identify eight core tenets for building respectful, responsive, and transparent community partnerships that can support stable and effective conservation interventions.
Long-Term Ecological Study
Our fifth chat in the series features Assistant Director of Science Dr. Gustaf Samelius. In this chat, Gustaf talks about our Long-Term Ecological Study in the Tost Mountains of Mongolia. This important study, made possible with our partners at the Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation, is now in its twelfth year! Gustaf’s chat focuses on what we have learned, why we continue, and how long-term studies benefit conservation efforts.
Gustaf became the Snow Leopard Trust’s Assistant Director of Science in 2012. Gustaf’s work involves coordinating the Long-Term Ecological Study in Tost. Before joining our team, Gustaf spent several years conducting wildlife research in the Canadian Arctic and the boreal forests of Sweden. He has worked a lot with lynx and did his doctorate work on arctic foxes in northern Canada.
Valuing Snow Leopard Landscapes
Our fourth live chat was hosted by Dr. Ranjini Murali. Across the snow leopard range, both people and wildlife share the same spaces. These habitats that are crucial for snow leopards are also vital for human well-being. In this chat, Ranjini talks about the communities here, and how they use, value, and manage these landscapes.
Ranjini’s fascination with the natural world began in the forests of the Western Ghats, which she used to visit during her summer vacations. Her love for the natural world led her to pursue a career in conservation and research. She recently graduated with a PhD from the Nature Conservation Foundation and Manipal University, after which she completed a post-doctorate with the Azim Premji University, Bangalore. Ranjini worked with our India partner, the Nature Conservation Foundation, and fell in love with snow leopard landscapes, the people, and the program’s inclusive approaches to conservation. Ranjini recently joined our team as a Conservation Scientist, and we are so excited to be working more directly with her.
One Thousand & Three Hundred Nights in the Gobi
Our third chat in the series features Senior Scientist Dr. Örjan Johansson. Örjan’s groundbreaking work on snow leopard biology and behavior has led to novel insights into the ecology of this elusive cat. This information not only helps us better understand snow leopards but also allows conservation actions to be more efficient. Now, after over ten years of field work and more than 1,300 nights spent in the Gobi Desert, this pioneering scientist has led our team in collaring 32 individual snow leopards. Designing more efficient and animal friendly capture techniques lies at the heart of his field engagement. If you would like more information on our GPS-collaring practices, please visit our FAQ page.
Technology in the Field
Our second chat was hosted by Senior Regional Ecologist Dr. Koustubh Sharma. Koustubh has been involved in active research and conservation for 17 years. He obtained his PhD in Wildlife Zoology from the University of Mumbai in 2006 after pursuing his Masters in Physics in 2001. Koustubh has worked with the Snow Leopard Trust as a Senior Regional Ecologist since 2007, and since 2014, has taken additional charge as the International Coordinator of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystems Protection Program (GSLEP). As Senior Regional Ecologist, Koustubh assists in field research, data analysis, and conservation and training programs across several countries. His academic interests lie in quantitative ecology, conservation biology, and ecological modeling.
When he’s not diving into data, Koustubh likes to delve into his artistic side, and even illustrated many of the activity pages that can be found on our website. You may have even seen Koustubh on TV in the latest Microsoft AI commercial.
Women in Conservation
Our first Snow Leopard Live Chat features Dr. Justine Shanti Alexander. Justine is a conservation scientist working as the Regional Ecologist for the Snow Leopard Trust. She is also the Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Network. Her work over the last nine years has been dedicated to building snow leopard science and strengthening conservation action across the range. Justine completed her PhD on snow leopard population assessments in China. She now supports research and community conservation programs across the snow leopard range countries, including China, Kyrgyzstan, India, Mongolia and Pakistan. Justine’s vision is the harmonious and sustainable co-existence of large mammals and humans in Central Asia.
Looking for more snow leopard activities and resources?
Head over to our new Activities Page to find coloring sheets, a spot the snow leopard activity, an animated video from Japan, a word search, and more! There is even an activity to build and install your very own camera trap in your home just as we do in the wild.