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1. Have the density and abundance of the snow leopard population changed.
2. What are the changes in the habitat of snow leopards, and are there any threats in their habitat.
3. What is the composition of the fodder base and are there enough food resources to conserve the population.
This year, the KACB will test a new observation methodology developed by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF, Russia). The new approach is that the habitat of the snow leopard will be divided into cells of 25 sq.km. each. The researchers will collect data in each cell - and then will use special formulas to estimate the population abundance and density more precisely.
Participants of the expedition will place special photo-traps as per the new WWF methodology. Snow leopards are cautious and secretive animals. To encounter them in the wild is a great success and a rare case. That is why all-weather photo traps with a long battery life remain an indispensable tool for the researcher. 50 photo traps will be used in the work.
Observations and surveys of locals
In addition, the researchers will meet with locals to find out where and when they noticed the snow leopard or traces of its occurrence. They will inspect the area on their own in search of evidence of its occurrence, to map the routes of migration and movements of snow leopards and animals they hunt.
The expedition members will gather scientific data, and will also tell what it’s like to follow the snow leopard tracks. They will make a number of video clips for YouTube on the scene, and Journalist Maya Akisheva will cover the course of the expedition in social networks to ensure that more people learn about the problem of the conservation of snow leopards.
Last year, some scientists of the Institute of Zoology made 12 expeditions in the vicinity of Almaty, in the mountainous part of the basin of the Greater Almaty River.
• Purchased 8 new photo traps.
• Arranged 30 photo traps and found 4 snow leopards in the area of the Ile-Ala Tau National Park.
• Found out that the habitat area suitable for the snow leopard reduced by 17.4%, it means that snow leopards ceased to inhabit in the area of 29.6 sq.km. of the park.
• Studied the conditions of their habitats, the state of food resources, the presence of natural enemies and competitors.
• Established some facts of poaching and transferred information to the competent organization to take protective measures.
Last year, the scientists of the Kazakhstan Association for Conservation of Biodiversity (KACB) made some field expeditions - in spring, summer and autumn - to establish the habitat and to estimate the abundance of snow leopards, and to study conditions of their habitat.
50 photo traps were used in the Dzungarian Ala Tau Natural Park and the Toktin Wildlife Reserve during three expeditions. Based on the results of “photo catches”, 12 snow leopards were photo-recorded, of those a female with one cub and a female with two cubs.
Some locals and inspectors of the park and received additional information on the habitats of snow leopards and other animals. The key habitats were determined that are the most important for the conservation of the snow leopard.
The researchers found out that there were more habitats of snow leopards in the Toktin Wildlife Reserve than in the main area of the Dzungarian Ala Tau Park. The Reserve is at a greater distance from large inhabited areas, the conditions for the normal habitat of the snow leopard have preserved better there, and its relative abundance is higher.
However, there is no infrastructure to protect the species in the Toktin Wildlife Reserve. In their report to the Committee for Forestry and Wildlife of the Ministry of Agriculture, the KASB indicates the need to strengthen protective measures, and to include those new areas in the national park, which are important for the conservation of the snow leopard. The Association concluded a cooperation agreement with the Dzungarian Ala Tau National Park, and worked out a joint fieldwork plan for the next three years.
The Association for Conservation of Biodiversity in Kazakhstan carried out a large-scale work with the assistance of Carlsberg Kazakhstan to research the snow leopard population in the Dzungarian Ala Tau in 2015.
1. 50 photo traps were acquired to study the snow leopard and also those animals, which constituted its prey item base and competitors.
2. Three field expeditions were carried out (in the spring, summer and autumn of 2015), during which some data was collected by using photo traps and questioning local people.
3. Such data as gathered over 2015 were summarized and analyzed.
4. Recommendations were drawn up for the CFW on for the preservation of the snow leopard in the Dzungarian Ala Tau SNNP.