P.O. Box 547, Novosibirsk
SUPPORT US JUST NOW!
March 21, 2017
Creating a base for monitoring Pallas's cat in Kazakhstan
Technical Report ›› (DOC, 718 Kb)
This project aims
to obtain more specific information about Pallas' Cat number and distribution in Kazakhstan and create GIS base for the species monitoring
|Duration of project:
||September 15, 2011 - September 15, 2012
||Republic of Kazakhstan
The project was supported by the Rufford Foundation
Additional support made by the Small Wild Cats Foundation allowed to increase our field observations and to purchase 2 camera traps used for species evaluating. Four camera traps were presented to us by the Pallas's cat studies, preservation and breeding program of Moscow Zoo. Another two camera traps were lended by Mikhail Paltsyn (Altai-Sayan office of WWF Russia).
Pallas's cat (Otocolobus manul) is widespread in Kazakhstan, but is a threatened wild cat species with mosaic distribution. In the mid-1990s, IUCN experts believed the species had disappeared from the central part of its former range. Pallas's cat is a typical species for most of the Kazakhstan area and can serve as an indicator of the status of steppe and semi-desert ecosystems.
The results of a pilot project we undertook in 2009 showed that Pallas's cat is actually a rare species that is often unfamiliar to locals. The reason for this is the fact that the cat is rather secretive and tends to choose very specific areas to live in making its range mosaic-like. On the other hand, Pallas's cat habitats in Kazakhstan are less populated by humans, so the probability of encountering the cat is not very high. The main reason behind mosaic-like distribution is human activity. The development of virgin lands had a negative effect on Pallas's cat populations in the northern periphery of its Kazakhstan range. The growth of agriculture means an increased density of cattle farms and number of herders' dogs and humans and therefore increased disturbance factors. Mining activity can also be a considerable threat.
Proposed project's activities and methodology
- Preparatory stage (team training, conclusion of necessary agreements, preparation of cartographic and other materials for creating a GIS) (September-October)
- Obtaining survey data from the whole Kazakhstan using specially-designed questionnaires (October-May)
- Carrying out winter snow-tracking censuses in different typical Pallas's cat habitats, as well as obtaining survey data from local people (snow cover period November-March)
Snow-tracking censuses will be conducted using standard snow-tracking techniques combined with techniques modified specifically for Pallas's cat that we developed during our previous research in
Russia. Pallas's cat snow-tracking census is based on three components:
- walking along survey transects checking all tracks crossing it (standard)
- surveying sites which are preferred by Pallas's cat (eg. rocks, outcrops, holes, niches, ravines, etc.) and taking note of scats, urine marks, hair, etc.
- landscape analysis (combined with field observations and using special software for land surface analysis - ArcGIS and ENVI, including analyses of the digital elevation model and remote sensing data). Various likely Pallas's cat habitats will be included in the area of investigation. The areas where Pallas's cat density reduction is evident will also be included as well (ie. western and northern parts of the country).
- Data processing (May-August).
Using the data obtained and GIS techniques we shall:
- estimate the number of Pallas's cat in the survey area
- estimate the number and distribution of species in other parts of the study area
- identify habitats of high conservation value and critical for species
- specify the northern boundary of the range of Pallas's cat in Kazakhstan
- identify and estimate real and possible threats to cat in the area
- identify the effectiveness of the existing protected area network for Pallas's cat conservation.
- Developing monitoring system and network and formulating recommendations for creating protected areas for conservation of Pallas's cat in Kazakhstan.
Project's results will be published in scientific magazines also and distributed through our web site http://www.savemanul.org and through local mass media.
- Pallas's cat number and distribution will be studied in at least five characteristic areas (population density and habitat preferences will be evaluated)
- Interview data from target local people groups (eg. hunters and herders in winter and summer cattle camps and ranches) will be obtained
- The database and GIS on Pallas's cat locations, habitats and densities will be updated
- Threats to Pallas's cat will be assessed more accurately
- Areas of high priority, in which the species' status is of greatest concern, will be identified. Urgent measures to protect Pallas's cat in these areas will be suggested
- A monitoring system and network for Pallas's cat will be developed
- A map of the species' locations and distribution (eg. different habitat types, hot spots, critical areas and other important results) will be created in GIS format
- Protection measures for areas of high conservation value will be proposed (including possible proposals for creating new protected areas)