Posted on 17 March 2021
Mongolia released the results of its first nationwide snow leopard survey, showing that there are 953 (806 – 1127) of these adult big cats in the country.
WWF-Mongolia, and partners including Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation, Snow Leopard Trust, Irbis Mongolia Center, successfully completed the large-scale study to assess the current range and the population size of snow leopards in Mongolia with support from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism of Mongolia.
The assessment, initiated in 2017, was completed with more than 40 field surveys over 4 years, involving over 500 people: researchers from the partner organizations, the National University of Mongolia and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, rangers from the State Protected Areas, and local citizens.
During the survey, 15 snow leopards were collared, and 1,475 camera traps deployed at 29 mountains which provided photographic evidence of the elusive big cats across the habitat, confirming their presence. At the end of the survey, it was estimated that about 953 adult individuals, ranging from 806 to 1127, roam Mongolia, inhabiting approximately 326,617 square km area of Altai, Sayan, Khangai Mountain ranges.
Known as a shy and mysterious big cat which is also incredibly well camouflaged, the snow leopard is an indicator of the health of the ecosystem. The presence of a healthy population of the big cat in Mongolia shows that high mountain ecosystems remain healthy, which is critical as they are the source of water for millions of people downstream.
Tsogtsaikhan P., Head of the Fauna, Flora and Natural Resources Department of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism of Mongolia highlighted: “It is critical to determine how large the Mongolian snow leopard population is, and where they are found, to understand how to best manage conservation efforts in the future. With the initiative of WWF-Mongolia, the assessment of the snow leopard population in the country was successfully conducted. Representing the Government of Mongolia, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism of Mongolia provided strategic support for the assessment. Based on the results, we will be able to develop and implement sub-programs to protect high mountain biodiversity ecosystems.”
Gantulga B., Species Officer, WWF-Mongolia, briefed: “Snow leopard sign survey has covered 406,800 square kilometer area of 10 provinces in Mongolia that snow leopard could inhabit, which is one of the biggest surveys ever done on snow leopards. Camera trap survey to estimate the population size of the snow leopard covered 29 mountains. The assessment delivers scientific, robust and reliable results about snow leopard which is crucial for the effective conservation planning of the species and its home, the high mountain ecosystem. The results of the study will help identify and implement effective conservation activities in areas where snow leopards are in danger.”
Overall, there are estimated to be 3,920 to 6,930 snow leopards in the 12 range states across Asia’s high mountains. In 2017, The Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program and 12 snow leopard range governments and partners came together and committed to producing a robust estimate of the threatened cat’s population status within the next 5 years. Previously in 2016, Bhutan was the first country to complete the nationwide survey, followed by a large-scale assessment in Russia.
Mongolia’s nationwide survey is in line with the global commitment and will provide a benchmark to assess the population size of the snow leopard in other countries.
WWF -Mongolia is one of the most experienced conservation organizations in Mongolia and focuses its efforts on critical conservation issues in two of the world’s outstanding places for biodiversity conservation, the Altai Sayan Ecoregion (ASER) in Western Mongolia and Amur-Heilong Ecoregion Complex (AHEC) in Eastern Mongolia. Over the past 29 years, WWF-Mongolia implemented five 5 year conservation strategic programme.
For more information: Selenge Gantumur | Communications manager | firstname.lastname@example.org | Skype: g.selenge |