International project for the study and protection of large cats

About the project

Photo 3_Panthera pardus saxicolor

In May 2023, a new international cross-border project (hereinafter referred to as “the Project”) for study and conservation of big cats was launched in Kazakhstan with grants from National Geographic and Fondation Segré and the participation of Conservation X labs. The Project is being implemented in in Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.

The main executor of the Project in Kazakhstan is the Public Fund “Biodiversity Research and Conservation Center” BRCC with participation of the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (ACBK).

Persian Leopard was included in the Red Book of the Republic of Kazakhstan in 2021 after presence of at least four leopards was confirmed on the Ustyurt Plateau in the Mangystau region in 2007–2023 . Leopard occasionally enters Mangystau from neighboring Turkmenistan, where its population of about 100 individuals lives.

The Project goal is to create conditions for establishing and maintaining the Leopard population in Ustyurt by minimizing the impact of the main anthropogenic limiting factors.

Photo 2_Panthera pardus saxicolor

The project objectives are:

  • monitoring the Leopard presence and population status of its main food objects (the mountain sheep – Urials and Goitered gazelle) using modern technology (camera traps);
  • expanding the network of special protected natural areas in key species habitats;
  • ensuring the possibility of transboundary migrations for the Leopard and its prey species in accordance with the obligations carried by Kazakhstan under the Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals;
  • developing international collaboration in study and conservation of the Leopard;
  • working with the local population in order to prevent possible conflicts between humans and leopards, as well as to counteract poaching, including the use of large traps.
  • The most important condition for the successful implementation of the Project is the close cooperation of international experts with local environmental organizations and experts.

Co-authors: Mark Pestov, Vladimir Terentiev