Predator-human conflict: is an optimal solution possible?

In early April 2024, two short videos from TikTok appeared in social networks in Kazakhstan, which clearly show a Snow Leopard (or Irbis) entering a koshara and killing several sheep there. We have not yet managed to find out where exactly (including in which country), by whom and when these videos were made, but their authenticity is beyond doubt. The further fate of this Snow Leopard is unfortunately unknown.

Earlier in 2015, the media widely covered a situation in Karakiyan district of Mangistau region, when a leopard was trapped and killed after attacking grazing sheep several times:

In this connection, we consider it important to raise again the question of possible ways of optimal solution of such conflict situations between large predators and herders. Most often the perpetrators of attacks on domestic animals in Kazakhstan are wolves or feral dogs. And in this case the solution to the problem is obvious - predators, as a rule, try to destroy, and this does not contradict the current legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan: the wolf is included in the "List of animal species, the number of which is subject to regulation in order to protect public health, to protect against diseases of agricultural and other domestic animals, to prevent damage to the environment, to prevent the risk of significant damage to agricultural activities" (Order of the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated 19 September 19, 2012). Registered with the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan on September 20, 2023 № 33442).

In accordance with paragraph 12 of the Rules of hunting on the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan (

The harvesting (shooting) of wolves, jackals, crows, magpies, great cormorants, rooks, and stray dogs does not require a wildlife use permit when:

1) protection of wildlife by officials of the territorial subdivision of the department of the authorized body in the field of protection, reproduction and use of wildlife and its specialized organizations, by the gamekeeper service of the subjects of hunting economy, as well as for shooting the great cormorant by the gamekeeper service of the subjects of fishery economy with the use of service weapons and the use of aircraft, motor vehicles, vehicles, including snowmobile equipment;

2) production of hunting for other types of animals (without the use of aircraft, motorized vehicles, vehicles, including snowmobile equipment) on the territory of the subject of hunting economy, on which the permit for the use of wildlife issued for hunting is valid.

A much more complicated and ambiguous situation arises when predators listed in the Red Book of the RK, including the Snow Leopard and the Persian Leopard, cause damage to cattle breeders. It is obvious that destruction (extraction) of these unique and specially protected animals in any situation is illegal and entails serious legal consequences. At the same time, no normative act specifies what a pet owner who has suffered damage as a result of an attack by a "red-listed" predator should do.

Of course, the problem of conflicts between herders and protected species of predators is not only relevant for Kazakhstan. A number of countries have developed a mechanism for paying compensation to livestock owners for the loss of animals as a result of predator attacks. Of course, in order to avoid possible abuses, payments are not made automatically, but only after a thorough investigation of each conflict by specially authorized specialists. Often such payments are made not by state structures, but by large public conservation organizations.

For example, in May 2023 in the Altai Republic (Russia), a female irbis with three grown-up kittens ran over 27 goats and rams. The Altai Irbis Association compensated the owner, who lost half of her flock, for material damage in the amount of 135 thousand rubles at the rate of 5 thousand rubles per sheep

In addition, regular work with the local population in areas inhabited by "red-listed" predators is important, aimed at raising people's awareness of the legal status of these animals, the need for their protection and possible ways to prevent conflict situations. For example, in Kyrgyzstan, in a number of cases, good results are achieved by helping cattle breeders to strengthen their koshars, which practically excludes the penetration of the same irbis into them, as well as by refraining from uncontrolled grazing and using shepherd dogs to protect flocks.

An even more interesting and promising experience of "indirect" compensation was also tested in Kyrgyzstan: shepherds in the habitat of the irbis received several camera traps from a non-governmental conservation organization with the condition of regular transmission of data from the camera traps to the specialists. If the camera traps repeatedly recorded the presence of the Snow Leopard, the NGO financially rewarded the local resident, on whose property this rarest member of the cat family is stable. In this way, a person receives real benefits from peaceful coexistence with a large predator and becomes personally interested in its conservation.

It is obvious that similar mechanisms should be envisaged in the legislation and environmental practice of Kazakhstan, having studied foreign experience beforehand. And to begin with - to initiate a broad public discussion of the problem with the participation of all stakeholders.

Currently, in the Mangystau region of the Republic of Kazakhstan with the support of international grants from the National Geographic Society / and Fondation Segre /, as well as with the participation of Conservation X Labs /, An international cross-border project for the study and protection of large cats is being implemented. In Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, the project is focused on the Persian Leopard, in Kyrgyzstan – on the Snow Leopard. The main contractor of the project in Kazakhstan is the public foundation "Center for the Study and Conservation of Biodiversity" (BRCC The Kazakhstan Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity (ASBK /).

The objective of the Project is to create conditions for the possible existence of the population of the Persian Leopard in the Kazakh part of Ustyurt as a result of minimizing the impact of major anthropogenic threats. One of the main tasks is to interact with the local population in order to prevent possible conflict situations between humans and leopards, as well as to prevent poaching, including illegal use of large-sized traps. Read more about the project and its interim results:

In 2024, we - the project team for the study and protection of wild cats in Kazakhstan - plan to prepare, print and distribute an illustrated brochure "Cats of Kazakhstan's deserts" in Kazakh language among the residents of Mangistau, as well as to conduct a survey among herders, hunters and environmental inspectors on the topic of conflict situations with large predators. There are plans to bring this difficult problem to a wide discussion, including at the governmental level.

We hope that in the course of the project implementation we will be able to come closer to the realization of the set goals and objectives, including the search for optimal solutions to conflict situations between large carnivores and humans. We are ready to interact and cooperate with all interested parties. We can be contacted at:

BRCC office in Astana:

Project representatives in Mangistau - phone, WhatsApp, Telegram:

+7 701 556 50 84, +7 700 296 13 84

Mark Pestov, Ph.D., BRCC expert

Screenshots from videos of an irbis attack on a koshara:

Open source photo: an ante-Asian leopard killed in Karakiyan district of Mangistau region in 2015 after attacking sheep

1 комментарий

  1. Рустамов Эльдар 12.04.2024 в 13:08

    Четверть века назад в Туркменистане выполнялся аналогичный проект WWF с учетом взаимоотношений леопарда и местных сообществ с целью предотвращения конфликтных ситуаций между людьми и леопардом, естественно, и предотвращения браконьерства, см. например”
    Опыт WWF несомненно может пригодиться при выполнении современного проекта в Туркменистане, по руководством страстного поборника сохранения популяций диких кошек в мире b в Туркменистане – Тани Розен и её команды

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