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Planning and training workshop for the first ever national snow leopard survey

7-11 September 2015. The Wildlife Conservation Division, Department of Forests and Park Services, is conducting a five-day planning and training workshop for the first ever nationwide Snow Leopard Survey. The training workshop is attended by 30 field staff from snow leopard range parks, namely Jigme Dorji National Park (JDNP), Wangchuck Centennial National Park (WCNP), Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve (JKSNR), Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary (BWS), and Paro Territorial Division. The training workshop is facilitated and conducted by a team of national resource persons, most of whom are Core Team Members of the National Snow Leopard.

Bumtang trainingThe theme of this training workshop is “Counting the mountain queen: National Snow Leopard Survey of Bhutan 2015-2016”. The main objective of this workshop is to familiarize the field staff and survey enumerators with the objective of the National Snow Leopard Survey, and acquaint them with the survey protocol that includes methods in handling and stationing the camera traps and GPS and their accessories, and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in wildlife scat collection and handling. The resource persons also imparted general ecology and conservation status of snow leopards in addition to sharing of their past experiences of snow leopard surveys in JDNP, WCNP, and BWS.

The nationwide survey of snow leopard is divided into two phases wherein the first phase focused on a comprehensive sign survey conducted in the last fiscal year from October 2014 till end of July 2015. The fieldwork resulted in identifying the presence of snow leopard and main prey base evidences. The phase two survey will constitute of intensive camera trap survey and field work is planned to commence from the third week of September 2015 through end of December 2015.

This planning and training workshop is the first step towards camera trap survey. It is hoped that this training workshop will achieve scientifically robust ways of study area selection, camera trap placement, and consistent collection, handling, and management of camera trap data. These are all essential in obtaining optimum quality of data for reliably estimating the abundance and density of snow leopards and understanding their distribution patterns in Bhutan.

The training workshop is financially supported by WWF Bhutan Program.