New Update from Dr. Natalie Schmitt: Snow Leopards in Kyrgyzstan

Snow Leopard Relaxed by Eric Kilby. CC BY-SA 2.0

Dr. Natalie Schmitt is an inspiring conservation geneticist who is developing a DNA field kit for snow leopards (Panthera uncia). By placing a sample of scat on her lightweight test kit, researchers will be able to tell if that scat came from a snow leopard – dramatically reducing errors in the field.

Dr. Schmitt recently returned from Kyrgyzstan, where she presented her work at a conference for the Society of Conservation Biology in Central Asia. While there, she also had a chance to journey into the mountains to learn more snow leopard conservation.

Fortunately for all of us, Dr. Schmitt has just written a post about her experiences in Kyrgyzstan. In addition to a score of beautiful photographs, it contains a great deal of fascinating information.

Some of the scenery in Kyrgyzstan. Morning in the Jailoo by Sathish J. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Part of Dr. Schmitt’s post revolves around Tanya Rosen (MS, JD). Tanya is a competent, accomplished woman who directs Panthera’s snow leopard programs in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. For those who are not aware, Panthera is an international organization dedicated to the conservation of the earth’s 40 wild cat species.

In her new post, Dr. Schmitt shares what she learned from Tanya and others in Kyrgyzstan. She discusses the dominant threats to snow leopards in that country, such as poaching and killings connected to livestock depredation.

But Dr. Schmitt also talks about solutions. Without a doubt, collaborating with local people is crucial for successful conservation. Helping to reduce snow leopard attacks on livestock, working with former poachers, and supporting the establishment of community-based conservancies have all benefitted snow leopards in Kyrgyzstan.

Another helpful tool has been the regulated hunting of prey species like Marco Polo sheep. It seems that in this case, trophy hunting is run properly and definitely preferable to the uncontrolled poaching of the animals that snow leopards depend on.

Of course, there is far more information in Dr. Schmitt’s newest update. You will not regret reading it!

Click Here for Dr. Schmitt’s Inspiring Post about Snow Leopard Conservation in Kyrgyzstan

26 Thoughts

        1. Scat/poop is frequently used to extract DNA. However, as of now you have to take it back to a lab to analyze it. So when researchers grab scat for the wrong species, which is very easy to do, it’s a waste of time and money. With the kit Dr. Schmitt’s developing, all they’ll have to do is put a little bit of scat in a piece of paper, and it’ll tell them if it’s from a snow leopard. That means fewer errors and wasted time/money.


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