Tien Shan: community expedition in coronavirus times

The coronavirus has forced us to make major changes to our efforts here with the Tien Shan snow leopard expedition. All citizen science elements of the expedition have been deferred to 2021, but we are still able to push ahead with a community expedition this summer, thanks to the generosity of those who have contributed to the Biosphere Expeditions appeal. We are lucky in getting our community expedition funded through this. There are other projects out there that are not fully funded yet, so please, if you can, consider supporting those too. Anyway, thank you to all donors who have funded us!

Right now we are in the planning phase of how to pull all the different partners together here in Kyrgyzstan. As always, we have our inaugural partner NABU on board with their Grupa Bars (anti-poaching patrol) staff.  Also joinung us this year will be  Askat Mukabaev, who is a full-time conservation biologist at ILBIRS, another local conservation NGO here in Kyrgyzstan. Beyond that we have our community camera trap monitoring group that will be joining us as well. The expedition leader this year will be me, Amadeus DeKastle, as I’m already here in Kyrgyzstan, having lived here for a good while!

Community camera trapping group at work
Some Grupa Bars members
Amadeus DeKastle

This year will be very different from previous expeditions, but at the same time, I know we are all looking forward to continuing this project and collecting another valuable data set this summer. Our community camera trap monitoring group has already collected some of the camera traps that are accessible and which have been out in the field since the end of the 2019 expedition. And we have a new image of a snow leopard in a new valley! It’s at night and blurry, but it’s definitely a snow leopard. Well done community camera trappers!

Original camera trap photo
Zoomed in and processed

So the excitement is there to check the camera traps that are still in the field, and also to use our community expedition really to develop the community-based conservation element of our work.

We are looking forward to the expedition (and will keep you updated via this blog). For next summer, I hope that things will be back to full capacity so that we are able to experience an expedition together again.

Coronavirus appeal update

Our coronavirus appeal for our local conservation partners & staff stands at 38% (EUR 23,296) raised. An overview of where each partner stands is below. Thank you for your generosity so far. Please keep on giving!


  • GERMANY (wolf) – total ask EUR 4,500 / total raised EUR 3,549 (78.9%)


  • THAILAND (elephant) – total ask EUR 5,500 / total raised EUR 205 (3.7%)
  • ARABIA (sand gazelle) – total ask EUR 5,000 / total raised EUR 250 (5.0%)
  • COSTA RICA (sea turtles) – total ask EUR 6,500 / total raised EUR 495 (7.6%)
  • MALAWI (elephant and African biodiversity) – total ask EUR 9,000 / total raised EUR 862 (9.5%)
  • ARMENIA (Persian leopard, lynx, bear, wolf) – total ask EUR 4,500 / total raised EUR 740 (16.4%)
  • MALDIVES (coral reefs) – total ask EUR 3,000 / total raised EUR 995 (33.2%)
  • KENYA (Big Five and African biodiversity) – total ask EUR 9,000 / total raised EUR 3,200 (35.6%)


  • AZORES (whales & dolphins) – total ask EUR 2,000 / total raised EUR 2,000
  • TIEN SHAN (snow leopard) – total ask EUR 3,500 / total raised EUR 3,500
  • BIOSPHERE EXPEDITIONS operational costs – total ask EUR 7,500 / total raised EUR 7,500

Bail out the planet

We have the opportunity to reshape our economies to support life on Earth. Governments should take it.

Do Not Resuscitate. This tag should be attached to the oil, airline and car companies. Governments should provide financial support to their workers while refashioning the economy to provide new jobs in different sectors. They should prop up only those sectors that will help secure the survival of humanity and the rest of the living world. They should either buy up the dirty industries and turn them towards clean technologies, or do what they often call for but never really want: let the market decide. In other words, allow these companies to fail.


The world and coronavirus

How the virus is affecting nature, humankind and the world

Coronavirus appeal update

We’ve reached the milestone of one-third of funds (EUR 20,000) raised, thank you!

Still in need of funding are:

  • ARABIA (sand gazelle)
  • ARMENIA (Persian leopard, lynx, bear, wolf)
  • COSTA RICA (sea turtles)
  • GERMANY (wolf)
  • KENYA (Big Five and African biodiversity)
  • MALAWI (elephant and African biodiversity)
  • MALDIVES (coral reefs)
  • THAILAND (elephant)

Fully funded are:

  • AZORES (whales & dolphins)
  • TIEN SHAN (snow leopard)

Our local partners need your help to continue their conservation work! Please keep giving.


Citizen science month: more citizen science from home

The month of April is Global Citizen Science Month. Unfortunately with the current COVID-19 pandemic occurring globally, many citizen science projects have been put on hold, but there are also many still seeking help.

The Australian Citizen Science Association (ACSA) and the US Citizen Science Association (CSA) have both put up a page about citizen science and COVID-19 with many options to contribute without leaving your house.

For nature lovers, there are two popular apps to explore and share nature, and to contribute to science: iSpot and iNaturalist.