Monitoring snow leopards is a time-consuming business – but a new AI solution developed in partnership between Microsoft and the Snow Leopard Trust could be a game changer and free up resources to invest in conservation action.
Follow field researcher Sherry Young, Wildlife Ranger Urmat Sokolov and their horses Padiera and Caramel as they cross frozen rivers and climb precipitous slopes to install camera traps to monitor snow leopards and their prey in Kyrgyzstan’s Sarychat Ertash Reserve.
Dr. Kulbhushansingh (“Kullu”) Suryawanshi, Senior Scientist and India Program Director for the Snow Leopard Trust, explains how much of a bias there is in existing population studies, and why it matters for the future of this endangered cat.
Existing snow leopard population assessment studies tend to be conducted in the best habitats and cover areas that are too small to be representative of larger landscapes. This leads to inflated population estimates.
This fall, Snow Leopard Trust researchers have set up camera traps across the entire Kyrgyz Ala-Too mountain range to see how many snow leopards live in this habitat near the country’s capital, Bishkek. Research Associate Suraiya Luecke shares some of the team’s experiences from the field with us.