Mountain Tiger (Snow Leopard)

Ashok Subedi’s research on the ecology of snow leopards and blue sheep in the Trans-Himalaya region of Nepal is crucial for understanding the dynamics of this vulnerable species and its interactions with its primary prey.
Snow leopards (Panthera uncia) are sparsely distributed over the mountainous regions of Central Asia. The species is listed as vulnerable on the Red List of Threatened Species by the IUCN [15]. The principal natural prey of the snow leopard in Nepal are blue sheep (Pseudoisnayaur).

A fundamental question revolves around the influence of both biotic and abiotic factors on the distribution and abundance of the snow leopard. Blue sheep, as primary prey, must navigate space to secure sufficient forage, evade competition and predation, and identify optimal environments. Simultaneously, snow leopards exhibit a preference for areas frequented by their prey, creating a competitive dynamic where prey seek to minimize spatial overlap while predators aim to maximize it.
In the human-dominated and climatically challenging environments of Nepal’s Trans-Himalayas, the intricate interplay of these factors in shaping the distribution and abundance of the endangered snow leopard and its main prey, the blue sheep, remains unclear.

Ashok Subedi, a conservation officer at NTN and a PhD student at Wageningen University & Research, seeks to address this knowledge gap by investigating the determinants of blue sheep distribution and how their distribution and population dynamics impact the foraging patterns and distribution of snow leopards in the Nar valley located in the Annapurna Conservation Area in Nepal.

To address these research questions comprehensively, Subedi plans to gather data from various sources. This includes environmental data from weather stations, energy requirements for snow leopard thermoregulation derived from artificial snow leopard models, assessments of forage availability along the altitudinal gradient, examinations of diet overlap between blue sheep and livestock, evaluations of the vigilance of blue sheep in the presence or absence of livestock, analysis of snow leopard scats for diet assessment across seasons, and an examination of prey dynamics. Additionally, Subedi will conduct a questionnaire survey to assess the impact of tourism and fungus collection on livestock herding and its subsequent effects on the distribution and abundance of snow leopards.

His research will lead to recommendations for area prioritization to mitigate human-snow leopard conflicts. See News of January 15, 2019: In Search of the Mountain Ghost.
Also see his research proposal “The ecology of snow leopard and blue sheep in the Trans-Himalaya of Nepal”.