Snow Leopards in Api Nampa
Snow leopard habitat in Nepal is may encompass an area of 13,000 km2 along the country’s northern frontier extending from the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area in the east to the Api Nampa Conservation Area (ANCA) in the west. The ANCA was established in 2010 to aid the conservation of mountain flagship species, including snow leopards. From a conservation perspective, ANCA may provide ideal habitat for the long-term survival of snow leopards primarily because it represents one of the least disturbed natural areas in Nepal.
The Api Nampa could potentially serve as a Trans-Himalayan habitat corridor for snow leopard populations in both India and Tibet, thus this could be crucially important for the species long-term survival in the wild.
However, currently no information exists on snow leopard populations in Api Nampa and as a result, the current status of the species there remains largely unknown. Because the area may well be a critically important refuge for snow leopards in Nepal, the need to address this glaring knowledge-gap is urgent, particularly given the increasing regional and range wide threats snow leopards are facing today.
Our project aims to address this knowledge gap regarding snow leopards in the ANCA. Using camera-traps and non-invasive sampling techniques, such as the analysis of scat (leopard droppings), we will estimate the size and distribution of snow leopard populations. The extent of human- snow leopard conflict, a major threat to snow leopards across their range, will also be assessed. This information will help us to produce a model of the impact of humans and global climate change on potential snow leopard habitat and activity in the ANCA and allow the implementation of activities to build and strengthen the capacity of local stakeholders to survey snow leopards.
This project is a collaborative effort between S.P.E.C.I.E.S., Biodiversity Conservancy Nepal, and Kathmandu University.
At the end of this project, we will have gained critical information about snow leopard populations which will help to predict their viability in the Api Nampa Conservation Area and also serve as a baseline for future surveying and monitoring.
We will also: identify and map areas with a high magnitude of human-snow leopard conflict and design ways to mitigate these conflicts, gain insights into current actual and potential threats to snow leopards and enable authorities to mitigate these threats, build and strengthen the capacity of local leaders as well as foster a sense of project ownership and responsibility, and establish a scat library for snow leopards which can be used to analyse their diets and create a DNA library for snow leopards in the future.