Population Assessment & Distribution

Localizing & Counting the World’s Snow Leopards and their Prey.

Snow Leopard Populations

The number of snow leopards remaining in the world is unknown, and prevailing estimates are based on extremely limited data. In the 2017 Bishkek Declaration, the snow leopard range countries resolved to close these knowledge gaps as much as possible and formally endorsed a plan to develop a global snow leopard population assessment. The ambitious initiative, called Population Assessment of the World’s Snow Leopards, or, in short, PAWS, aims to produce a robust estimate of the threatened cat’s population status within the next 5 years.

One major focus of PAWS – and a condition for its success – is the establishment of agreed-upon best practices and protocols for data collection and management for population assessment, and the proliferation of these best practices and protocols among snow leopard researchers and conservationists. To this end, the GSLEP Secretariat, with help from the PAWS Technical Advisory Panel, has put together a series of practical tools to help practitioners design and implement distribution and population studies and analyze their data in a standardized fashion.

Prey Populations

Wild ungulates play a crucial role in maintaining ecosystems by influencing vegetation structure, plant species composition and nutrient cycling.

The availability of wWild ungulate prey is one of the most important determinants of large carnivore density. The population of the snow leopard is directly impacted by the abundance of their mountain ungulate prey, even in livestock dominated systems. Considering this, maintaining and monitoring populations of ungulates are important objectives of conservation management.

There is a wide range of methods for prey population monitoring, but the Double Observer method has proven to be particularly useful in mountainous snow leopard habitat. Under the GSLEP program, a manual has been developed to provide practical, step-by-step guidance on how to plan, implement and analyze double observer surveys to estimate ungulate population abundance.

Double Observer Survey Manual

PDF, 2.7 MB