Tara Meyer M.E.Sc. ’15 worked as the Principal Investigator of a snow leopard study in Tajikistan. Her work was conducted in collaboration with Panthera, a U.S.-based NGO, and the Republic of Tajikistan’s Academy of Sciences’ Department of Zoology.
“For my research I led a camera-based study of snow leopards in the Hissar Mountain Range in western Tajikistan. My team and I placed 40 motion-censored camera traps in areas we hypothesized to be good snow leopard habitat — areas above 3,000 meters where we found signs (tracks, scat, scrapes, etc.) of either snow leopard or their main prey in the area: ibex. We also collected snow leopard scat samples which will be used to conduct a DNA analysis of the current population, and conducted key informant interviews with local hunters and other experts, and administered a community survey about human-wildlife conflicts. Together we hiked nearly 4,000 kilometers in two months (that’s roughly the distance from Los Angeles to New York City).
“One day, my Research Assistant Khalil and I were hiking up towards a mountain pass to place one of my cameras and we came to a small river. I took off my boots and waded across, but got totally soaked. Right then two men with old Soviet rifles rode up on horseback and offered to carry me across the remaining river tributaries. Khalil spoke with them and we agreed to accept their help. They ended up giving us a ride for several kilometers up into a remote valley where their yaks had been grazing unattended for weeks. When they dropped us off, they told us they were hunting ibex. Now I can tell people that I rode a horse in Tajikistan with a very friendly yak herder-slash-poacher. [Read more
“I had a lot of help from Yale and my partners at Panthera. The bulk of my funding came from The Schiff Fund for Wildlife, Habitat and Environment and Panthera. I also had support from Carpenter Sperry, the F&ES Summer Fund [administered by the Career Development Office], and the Tropical Resources Institute (TRI).”