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FIRST SNOW LEOPARDS COLLARED IN AFGHANISTAN
ScienceBlog ^ | 7/17/2012

Posted on 07/17/2012 8:31:19 PM PDT by nickcarraway

Two snow leopards were captured, fitted with satellite collars, and released for the first time in Afghanistan by a team of Wildlife Conservation Society conservationists and Afghan veterinarians conducting research during a recent expedition.

The team successfully captured and released the male snow leopards on May 27 and June 8 respectively. Each cat was weighed, measured, fitted with a Vectronix satellite collar, and DNA samples were taken. After DNA samples, the healthy snow leopards were released and headed up the Hindu Kush Mountains in good condition. The big cats will be tracked by WCS to better understand their behavior and range. So far, the first snow leopard, Pahlawan, has travelled more than 125 kilometers; while the second cat, Khani Wakhai, has travelled more than 153 kilometers. The veterinary team, including WCS’s Dr. Stephane Ostrowski and two Afghan colleagues Dr. Ali Madad and Dr Hafizullah Noori, conducted the tranquilizing process at the capture sites along with Nat Geo WILD’s Boone Smith, an expert tracker who traveled to Afghanistan for the project with the Nat Geo WILD film crew.

The work was generously supported by the National Geographic Society, Nat Geo WILD and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

An adult snow leopard stands about two feet at the shoulder and weighs between 60 and 120 pounds. The snow leopard is an alpine rock-climbing specialist with large paws that are ideally adapted to both rocky terrain and deep snow drifts and thick fur to stay warm.

David Lawson, WCS Afghanistan Country Director, said: “These captures are sensational. They are also a real tribute to the knowledge of the local community rangers and the success of our recent camera trapping efforts, which enabled the team to select spots that were known to be frequented by snow leopards.”

The range of the snow leopard includes about 2 million square kilometers across 12 nations in Asia from Russia to Nepal. It is the apex predator and a flagship species for one of the last great wilderness regions on earth – the spectacular mountain ranges of Asia, including the Himalaya, Karakoram, Hindu Kush, Pamir, Tien Shan, and Altai ranges.

The entire process was documented by a Nat Geo WILD television crew for a world premiere special Snow Leopards of Afghanistan premiering this December on Nat Geo WILD during the third annual Big Cat Week, an extension of the Cause An Uproar campaign, dedicated to saving the world’s big cats.

Despite survival skills such as spectacular leaping ability and coloring that camouflages them to near invisibility on the rocky alpine slopes of their native habitat, the snow leopard faces threats that are bringing this species closer to extinction. Snow leopards have been categorized as an Endangered Species on the IUCN’s Red List since 1972, and the species is listed as endangered by almost all range countries. Despite these listings, snow leopard populations are still thought to be dwindling across most of their range. Some 3,000 to 7,500 individuals are thought to exist.

There are five major threats facing snow leopards in the wild: poaching, especially for the skins but also for the traditional medicinal trade; loss of natural wild prey (mostly wild sheep and goats, but also marmots and smaller prey); retaliatory killing by shepherds and villagers when snow leopards switch to livestock as the only available alternative food source; general disturbance of habitat as people increasingly move into snow leopard ranges; and lack of awareness by local communities and governments of the rapid disappearance of snow leopards and the need for improved enforcement both in and outside protected areas.

Peter Zahler, WCS Deputy Director of Asia Programs, said: “The information garnered from the tagging will assist researchers as they learn more about the range, behavior, movements, and habitat used by snow leopards. This information in turn will help us in our partnership with the Afghan Government and local communities to design protected areas and management strategies to optimize the conservation of this big cat.” WCS works closely with Afghanistan government partners including the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) to find ways to save snow leopards while improving local people’s livelihoods.

NEPA Director General Mostapha Zaher said, “History is being made. Snow leopards are indeed magnificent creatures, and we hope that this research will raise awareness and help in preserving Afghanistan’s snow leopards and our country’s other wonderful wildlife.” Ghani Ghuriani, Afghanistan Deputy Minister for Agriculture Affairs in the Ministry of Agriculture, said: “The snow leopard is an iconic species for our country. Its continued presence in Afghanistan shows that our efforts at improving natural resource management – from rangeland practices to wildlife protection – are succeeding.”

While this is the first collaring effort in Afghanistan, WCS supported the first ever radio-collar study of snow leopards in Mongolia’s Gobi Altai Mountains in the 1990s under the leadership of Dr. George Schaller. WCS has a long history of working on snow leopard conservation, beginning with Schaller’s wildlife surveys on snow leopards and their prey in the Himalaya in the 1970s, resulting in his seminal books “Mountain Monarchs” and “Stones of Silence.” Schaller and colleagues have followed up that work with ongoing conservation efforts in China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan.


TOPICS: Outdoors; Pets/Animals; Science
KEYWORDS: afghanistan; asia; kittyping; snowleopard

1 posted on 07/17/2012 8:31:34 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway
Cool cat.


2 posted on 07/17/2012 8:38:27 PM PDT by thecodont
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To: Slings and Arrows

Over to you Slings and Arrows. :)=^..^=


3 posted on 07/17/2012 8:40:23 PM PDT by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: Biggirl; Slings and Arrows; Glenn; republicangel; Beaker; BADROTOFINGER; etabeta; asgardshill; ...

4 posted on 07/17/2012 8:45:59 PM PDT by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: nickcarraway

The people that live in the range of the Snow Leopard care very little for human life.. Animals are just food and clothing.. Western ideas are foreign to them.. They are not very civilized..


5 posted on 07/17/2012 8:48:51 PM PDT by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole..)
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To: hosepipe
The people that live in the range of the Snow Leopard care very little for human life.. Animals are just food and clothing.. Western ideas are foreign to them.. They are not very civilized..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmad_Shah_Massoud

6 posted on 07/17/2012 8:58:46 PM PDT by James C. Bennett (An Australian.)
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To: James C. Bennett

The collars placed on animals are a source of death. They can be used by hunters to track the animal, they are a source of infection and some animals can not stand the collar and end up dead trying to remove them. This is typical of the environmentals. Anything they decide to
do is fine such as wind farms that kill birds.


7 posted on 07/17/2012 9:20:30 PM PDT by Cowgirl
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To: nickcarraway

In early 1990`s there was a snow leopard from Afghanistan in the San Francisco Zoo. He was in a steel barred cage.
One day I took an Afghani mujhadeen fighter wounded in fighting against the Russians and his family to a trip to that zoo.
When he saw the snow leopard in the cage, he started talking to it in pashtu. The snow leopard got up and started making purring sounds kinda and rubbing up against the bars. I asked the Afghani Fighter “What did you say to the snow leopard?”- He said - “I talked to him. ‘Hello- How are you?’ I know this cat from my country because we tame them there in the high mountains .- He`s a tamed cat- he shouldn`t be in a cage.” True story.


8 posted on 07/17/2012 9:32:24 PM PDT by bunkerhill7 (. . what??? Who knew? .)
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To: Cowgirl
The collars placed on animals are a source of death. They can be used by hunters to track the animal, they are a source of infection and some animals can not stand the collar and end up dead trying to remove them. This is typical of the environmentals. Anything they decide to do is fine such as wind farms that kill birds.

I agree. I think that the snow leopards, in fact most animals or birds, will go crazy trying to remove the collar. I would think the collars on snow leopards would very easily lead to infections or snow crusted rings aroung their necks.

Hey, here's an idea! How about if we outfit the environmento wackos with permanent collars fitted around their grubby socialist necks. That way we could keep track of the wackos, whereever they might scurry to like the RATs they are. Include Algore in the catch & release collar fitting, large enough to fit around his fat double chin.

9 posted on 07/17/2012 9:34:45 PM PDT by rcrngroup
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To: nickcarraway
Two snow leopards were captured, fitted with satellite collars, and released for the first time in Afghanistan by a team of Wildlife Conservation Society conservationists and Afghan veterinarians conducting research during a recent expedition.

Beautiful and very rare animals. I hope the research is worth the stress caused for the snow leopards - it's not like they can afford to kill a few just to get info on their movements. And hopefully some Talibani doesn't decide to track the snow leopards via the transmitters in the collars and blow them up with an RPG because he thinks they insulted the Prophet or some such.
10 posted on 07/17/2012 9:38:02 PM PDT by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: thecodont

Wow! Look at that tail!


11 posted on 07/17/2012 10:42:25 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic (ABO)
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To: afraidfortherepublic; nickcarraway

12 posted on 07/18/2012 12:07:24 AM PDT by Daffynition (Our forefathers would be shooting by now.)
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To: bunkerhill7

Very cool story. Snow leopards, unlike ‘real’ leopards (which are not even the same species), are surprisingly easy to tame. Almost like cougars. Also, considering the respect the Mujahadeen had for ‘strong’ animals it is not far-founded that, as long as it didn’t prey on their livestock, they wouldn’t necessarily kill the animals. Totally believable story that is only made more credible by the fact you were there yourself.


13 posted on 07/18/2012 1:03:24 AM PDT by spetznaz (Nuclear-tipped Ballistic Missiles: The Ultimate Phallic Symbol)
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To: nickcarraway

My Mac is run on the snow leopard. :)=^..^=


14 posted on 07/18/2012 3:32:56 AM PDT by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: nickcarraway

Isn’t that some kind of violation of the “Prime Directive”? Now they will go back and talk about how they were captured by aliens, poked, prodded, and had their thoughts read.


15 posted on 07/18/2012 3:51:18 AM PDT by jimfree (In Nov 2012 my 12 y/o granddaughter will have more relevant executive experience than Barack Obama)
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To: rcrngroup
Does anyone remember the show about the Mercats? They had collared Flower the head female of a band and followed her for some time. Although I enjoyed the show and loved learning about this little animal, I believe that the collar eventually killed Flower.

She was bitten by a puff adder, a natural enemy of the Mercat. Her throat swelled to the point that the collar suffocated her. I do not believe she died from the snake bite, but rather from the collar not letting her neck expand.

Could we get a Freeper veterinarian to comment? BA

16 posted on 07/18/2012 3:53:30 AM PDT by Battle Axe (Repent, for the coming of the Lord is nigh.)
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To: nickcarraway

the snow leopard faces threats that are bringing this species closer to extinction...The Taliban will probably cut his head off.


17 posted on 07/18/2012 3:57:49 AM PDT by Safetgiver ( Islam makes barbarism look genteel.)
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To: Daffynition

Gorgeous. I want to reach out and touch that tail, but I suspect that he wouldn’t allow that! Ouch!


18 posted on 07/18/2012 4:56:50 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic (ABO)
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To: Battle Axe; vetvetdoug

Ping to comment #16. Can you shed light on this?


19 posted on 07/18/2012 5:00:03 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic (ABO)
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To: Cowgirl

Liberals/Socialists/Communists initiate their big “ideas” with lots of tunnel-vision thought that is riddled with “unintended consequences”. . but, then they will not backtrack and discontinue ANYTHING or program they started - it would be admitting they were wrong. Also, all those great government grants they’re riding would dry up.

DDT is just one foray into tunnel-vision thought that comes to mind that has killed hundreds of thousands of people due to malaria. So, now we donate mosquito netting instead. . a band-aid at least.


20 posted on 07/18/2012 7:40:14 AM PDT by Twinkie (Isaiah 53)
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To: Cowgirl

Liberals/Socialists/Communists initiate their big “ideas” with lots of tunnel-vision thought that is riddled with “unintended consequences”. . but, then they will not backtrack and discontinue ANYTHING or program they started - it would be admitting they were wrong. Also, all those great government grants they’re riding would dry up.

DDT is just one foray into tunnel-vision thought that comes to mind that has killed hundreds of thousands of people due to malaria. So, now we donate mosquito netting instead. . a band-aid at least.


21 posted on 07/18/2012 7:48:05 AM PDT by Twinkie (Isaiah 53)
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To: Daffynition

LOL! Whatta lovely creature.


22 posted on 07/18/2012 8:23:43 AM PDT by Titan Magroyne (What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.)
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To: Battle Axe

I’m not a vet but I can believe the swelling could do serious damage. My Jack Russell Terrier was bitten by a baby cottonmouth in the face and had terrible swelling. The vet had her in the hospital for a few days.


23 posted on 07/18/2012 8:50:20 AM PDT by midnightcat
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To: Battle Axe
It is a credible hypothesis. The constriction from the collar versus the oedema caused by the snake bite could have impaired circulation and the airway.

I had the honor of cleaning a Snow Leopard's teeth that was kept at the Knoxville Zoo. One can get a real appreciation of the size of the cat and the teeth when one is up close and personal with the working end of the cat.

24 posted on 07/18/2012 10:27:04 AM PDT by vetvetdoug
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To: Battle Axe

I really enjoyed the show.


25 posted on 07/18/2012 3:28:28 PM PDT by united1000
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To: vetvetdoug

There was one picture of Flower (dead) and it looked....to this entomologist...that the collar had constricted the airway. If you can find that picture post it for all to see.
Thanks. BA


26 posted on 07/18/2012 5:13:46 PM PDT by Battle Axe (Repent, for the coming of the Lord is nigh.)
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