2018’s first Tien Shan expedition group has arrived back in Bishkek after a busy two weeks. Thank you to Judy, Sophie, Marilyn, Allycia, Tristan, the two Peters, Holger, Jim, Ross, Markus, Peter, Andreas, Noel and Stanley for putting in lots of effort to collect a solid amount of data. We covered 34 cells (2×2 km each) in our study area, some of them multiple times. Our surveys showed that of those 34 cells, 23 of them had snow leopard prey species living in them. This included ibex, argali, marmot and snow cock. We set up eight camera traps in various locations (results pending). We also collected records for three bird and two butterfly species that are completely new to our study area this year. Most importantly, we collected two distinct records of snow leopard. The first record was the dead body of a cub in Sary Kul valley that we found out about from a shepherd. In Chong Chikan valley a survey up near the glacier came across two sets of prints, likely belonging to a mother snow leopard and her cub. This is not only a strong indication of snow leopard presence, but it is also great to see that there is likely to be a breeding population here in our study area.
Group 1, it was a pleasure to spend two weeks with you in the mountains “suffering for science”. All the best, and I hope to see each of you again!