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Datasheets• snow leopard sign survey• scat collection• prey species survey• interviews• camera trap set up• camera trap SD card change
Snow leopard signs Snow leopards leave evidence of their presence through tracks, scrapes, feces, scent-sprays, claw-rakes remains from kills When a snow leopard scrapes, it leaves behind its own scent, presumably indicating who it is (a resident or transient individual), its sex and whether or not it is ready to breed.
• Mountain ridges, • cliff edges • well-defined drainage linesServe as common travel routes and sites forthe deposition of sign, including scrapes,scats and scent marks.Core areas may be marked significantly morefrequently than non-core sites.The more visible a scrape, the more likely it isto be remarked – in effect freshened up tocover the scent of another individual. Markingfrequency varies seasonally.(from Snow Leopard Conservancy)
the survey area will be divided into survey cells A B C D1234
Snow leopard sign survey we will place between 5 - 20 transects within each survey cell (length 250 - 900m) B slowly walk along transects and search for snow leopard signs within 5 m wide strip on either side of the line of travel Signs to look for:3 • TRACKS • SCRAPES • SCENT MARKS • SCAT • KILLS
TRACKS (pugmarks)Pugmarks are extremely short-lived compared to scrapes
If we come across tracks,we will measure• heel pad length• heel pad width• greatest length• greatest width
scrapesSnow leopard scrape their back legs to excavate soil,leaving a small depression with a mound of soil next to itScrapes may persist for a year or more if made in gravel or protected byoverhanging rocks. Many scrape sites are regularly visited andrefreshed, leading to well-sculptured scrapes at what we call “relicsites.” As much as 40% of all scraping activity involves remarking ofexisting scrapes
scrapes When finding scrapes we will classify the site and measure: greatest width greatest length
scent markSnow leopards spray boulders with a pungent liquidfrom scent glands located under the base of the tail.They also spread scent by cheek-rubbing on rocksor trees.
if coming along scent marks:measure:greatest height of scented markgreatest width of markwidth of scented featurelength of scented featurecheck if scrape is nearby andmeasure distance to scrape
scat collectionBecause snow leopards are difficult to capture, one of the mosteffective techniques for sampling their wild populations is bycollecting faeces (scat). When this is combined with geneticanalysis, much information on their populations can be obtained.This approach is referred to as non-invasive genetics. We willcollect scat and hand it over to Mikhail Paltsyn (WWF Russia)
scat collection scats are often, but not always deposited on or near scrapes, near a scented rock, along wildlife trails (especially at bends), and near kill remains. • scats tend to be uniform in diameter (1.8 cm average diameter) • comprised of several slightly constricted “cords” or connected blocky segments. • usually has blunt ends Note: snow leopards may also deposit small, fox-like scats
scat collectionPrepare a new Collection Tube with SilicaDesiccant and label it with the Date, SampleID, and Collector’s Name on the side of the tubeand with the sample ID on top of the cap.2. Take the GPS location.3. Fill out the Sample Data Form.4. Take several pictures of the scat5. Put on a new pair of gloves6. Break off bits and pieces from the outsidepart of the scat including pieces not directly inthe sun. Collect scat material about the size of apinkie nail. Do not fill the rest of the tube withscat. Do not compact scat – the scat should beloose.7. Dispose of gloves – keep used gloves awayfrom sample tubes ALWAYS HANDLE EACHSCAT WITH NEW GLOVES
prey species surveysA knowledge of prey density and predator–prey ratios helps to set limitsfor validating snow leopard numbers in a particular area.A snow leopard requires approximately 1.5 to 2.5 kg of meat per day, or40 to 45 g of food per kilogram of its body weight daily We observed a total of five different prey items from 81 fecal samples. Siberian ibex predominated the diet (in 70.4% of the feces), followed by domestic goat (17.3%) and argali sheep (8.6%). The major part of the diet was comprised of large ungulates (in 98.8% of the feces) including wild ungulates (79%) and domestic livestock (19.7%). Prey Preference of Snow Leopard (Panthera Uncia) in South Gobi,Mongolia2012 McCarthy, Thomas Michael. Pompanon, Francois. Purejav, Lkhagvajav. Coissac, Eric. Riaz,Tiayyba. Taberlet, Pierre Prey Preference of Snow Leopard (Panthera Uncia) in South Gobi, Mongolia 2012 publication: PLoS ONE issue: Feb 2012 type of publication: Journal Article eb 2012
prey species surveysTherefore, on each block set search sites – small, contiguous areas inwhich one can search for ungulates from no more than one or two highvantage pointsTry to climb onto high ridgelines and look downward into adjacent valleys.Alternatively, one could view a valley slope from the opposite slope
interviews• we will interview locals to see their attitude towards snow leopards and to get an idea where the snow leopards might be / have been seen• we will conduct the interviews in a “chatty” way• try to keep the datasheet out of sight, don’t let it look like an interview as answers might then be made up
camera trap set upCamera traps can be used to• census a population within a defined area• estimate SL population sizewithin each survey cell we will install two camera trap stationseach including two camera traps (= four camera traps persurvey cell)
camera trap set upbefore setting the station• locate the best snow leopard travel path• determine how to frame the pictures (what angle works best)• find flat ground, clear the area• set up each camera 2-5 m where you expect the cat to walk• set up each camera 35 – 45 cm above the ground• set up two cameras to face each other at a 45 degree angle• orientate the cameras north or south if possible• shadow the sensor by building a housing with a flat rock or similar• fill in the datasheet (GPS, Altitude, Time, Setting, Comments and if possible take a picture of the station)