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Description of the program OSI-Panthera Niveau 4

Take part in a conservation project for a cat in danger of extinction! Useful travel, trekking, horse riding and wildlife watching on the program. Voir descriptif détaillé Niveau 4

Description of the program OSI-Panthera Niveau 4

Take part in a conservation project for a cat in danger of extinction! Useful travel, trekking, horse riding and wildlife watching on the program. Voir descriptif détaillé Niveau 4

Home > Overview > Description of the program OSI-Panthera


The OSI-PANTHERA Program is one of the 17 Research and Education Program of the Objectif Sciences International NGO (OSI) . This NGO promotes science and research education, in favor of the sustainable development. Specifically, OSI proposes some participatory research trips for volunteer participants who will be involved and trained in the field, and who will then ultimately contribute to a real scientific research project.

The main objectives of the scientific research project of the OSI-PANTHERA Program are the study and the protection of the snow leopard, a feline in danger of extinction in Central Asia. The main fieldworks take place both in Kyrgyzstan and in Nepal, where volunteer participants come to support local actions to help protecting this little-known cat. In addition to the field data collected and analyzed, one of our main objective is to contribute to the awareness of the local and Western populations regarding the importance of the snow leopard survival, and of the protection of its natural habitat. More than a scientific expedition, OSI-PANTHERA is also a human adventure, thanks to the cultural and traditional exchanges between local and European people!


▪ It began in 2006. A small Franco-Russian team started the first surveys in Kyrgyzstan. During this first expedition, a panther carcass was found... a genetic sample (a piece of ear) was brought back and given to the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) in Paris for genetic identification and to complete their phylogenetic data. The OSI-PANTHERA adventure was then in its early stages....
▪ The following year, during the 2007 summer, we did the first expedition to the Sarychat-Ertash Natural Reserve in Kyrgyzstan with a team of 3 French and Swiss participants. This first expedition allowed to officially start a collaboration between OSI-PANTHERA and this reserve, in order to study the snow leopard’s populations, their ecology, their habitat and their preys, including the populations of sheep and ibex. The expedition has been renewed each year since then, always in collaboration with the reserve guards!
▪ In 2008, during a month, a group of about fifteen persons participated to the second expedition in the reserve.
▪ In 2009, for the third expedition in the reserve, a cameraman (Eric), and a professional photographer (Julien) integrated our team. They lived the adventure with us, but in addition, they did both a short movie summarizing and retracing the project (you can see it here), and an educational exhibition about both our OSI-PANTHERA expeditions and the snow leopard ecology (you can see more about it here), in order to raise awareness among the European public regarding the protection of this emblematic animal and its environment. In addition, in 2019, one of our photo-traps took our very first picture of a snow leopard in his natural environment! (see here)
▪ In 2010, as every year, this one-month expedition is of course renewed. Ruslan did an internship with us and spent an additional month in Kyrgyzstan in the reserve to work on a renovation project of the Eshegart house with the reserve guards. Walls, windows, floor, etc., after some effort, the cottage has been entirely renovated (you can learn more about it here).
▪ In 2011 we decided to shorten the duration of the expeditions from one month to three weeks, and we started to organize multiple expeditions with different groups of volunteers successively during the same summer. Two expeditions left that summer.
▪ In order to go deeper in the project, in 2012, three expeditions were organized in the reserve. In June 2012, the very first observation of a wild boar in the reserve was made with a telescope with the guards Ulan and Akyl: After few minutes thinking it was a bear, we had a good laugh when we understood... ! (The wild boar is a species that had never been observed in the reserve until then.)
▪ While the expeditions were always done around a central base camp, we however wanted to study the snow leopard over a much larger area. To this aim, an additional expedition was set up in 2013, travelling and roaming during multiple days through the whole reserve. This first roaming trip was a success as we detected many direct and indirect signs of snow leopards. That same year, at the end of the summer, the results of the project were presented in Karakol in Kyrgyzstan, in parallel of the Russian version of our 2009 movie entitled “Za PANTHERA, Carnet d’Expé”. We ended doing a Russian, an English and a French version of the DVD. (see here to know more about the DVD)
▪ In 2014 and 2015 we, of course, continued to organize multiple expeditions in the reserve. From 2014, we also started to involve young Kyrgyz teenagers in our project! A 10-days expedition was then created for 8 teenagers from the Karakol orphanage, with the aim of raising their awareness about the protection of their local environment. This expedition was totally free for them, and was mainly financed by the donations of European volunteers who participated to previous expeditions. It was also made possible thanks to the voluntary participation of some French scientific animators and several Kyrgyz guards. It was a great success that was renewed in 2015 with 7 other Kyrgyz children! Another remarkable fact of 2014 is when a group of volunteers had the immense chance, on a transect during an expedition, to encounter two baby snow leopards (of two-three months). It was a great emotion shared with Omorbek, Joky, Ulan and Elmir, the four reserve guards present with the group of participants that day! (you can know more about this rare meeting here). That same year, in June, a golden jackal was heard for the very first time in this region... and the presence of a lynx could be confirmed following photos and videos taken on photo-traps in 2015.
Some mammal species not yet recorded in the reserve were discovered during our expeditions. One of our participants, Aline Knoblauch, did an ornithological inventory of all the bird species she encountered throughout the summer season in the Sarychat-Ertash reserve but also in other areas of Kyrgyzstan that she was able to prospect (see here the details of her monitoring). Finally, the genetic analyses of the feces have given their first results... we found that at least twenty snow leopards are living in the Sarychat-Ertash nature reserve (scientific publication in progress).
▪ In 2016 we initiated our first expeditions in a second natural reserve: The Naryn reserve, in parallel with the expeditions in the Sarychat-Ertash reserve. These new expeditions start with a few days around the Song Kul Lake (3000 m altitude) to mainly make mammal and ornithological observations. At the end of the season, a report is written with all the mammal and bird species observed (see here to know more about it). In addition, the expeditions continued in the Sarychat-Ertash reserve with photo data from photo-traps, and with a small collection of additional feces for the ongoing genetic analysis. In 2016, we did not do, as the previous years, an expedition entirely dedicated to the Kyrgyz teenagers because we instead decided to include 2-3 Kyrgyz teenagers in our groups of European volunteers in each of the 3 expeditions we did (i.e., two expeditions in Sarychat-Ertash and one expedition in Naryn). They could therefore discover the fauna and the flora of their mountains, and participate in the data collection and thus ultimately in the protection of the animal species of the reserve. It was a great opportunity for exchanges between local youth and Western participants.
▪ In 2017 we again did multiple expeditions in the Sarychat-Ertash and in the Naryn reserves. Several photo traps were left during one year non-stop in the reserve, which provided beautiful images and relevant data regarding the natural life there.
-  In June, we organized our first expedition in collaboration with the Panthera Foundation in Kyrgyz Republic (it is an American association aiming to protect the snow leopard) in the Pamirs Alai region (on the Tajik border). Our participants installed about thirty photo traps belonging to Panthera (US) while inventorying the species present in this currently not very studied area of Kyrgyzstan.
-  In July, the OSI participants to another OSI program (i.e., the DRONE CONNEXION OSI program), came in the Sarychat-Ertash reserve, aiming to use their drones and machines to track the snow leopard. Despite some disappointments regarding the results and the project, it was an essential first step allowing us to draw a precise and concrete plan for the upcoming drone stays in this region.
-  From August 23 to 25th, the Global Snow Leopard Conservation Forum 2017 was held in Bishkek, the Kyrgyzstan capital. OSI-Panthera was of course present, represented by Anne-Lise and Bastien the co-directors of the OSI-PANTHERA program. They expand their network and built connections with many snow leopard specialists from various countries.

▪ In 2018 we continued the ongoing projects in all the different areas in which we initiated our projects.
-  In May, the first strategic committee of the OSI-PANTHERA program was held. We there reviewed all the past results and projects, and we planned the future ones.
-  In July, the Jangart Valley (currently a hunting area located in the south of the Sarychat reserve) was extensively surveyed. We got a great amount of new data regarding the snow leopard population there, as well as about the rest of the fauna. These data were supporting a protection program in this valley.
-  In August, the participants’ group doing an expedition in the Naryn reserve had the chance of observing a snow leopard in its natural habitat during several hours (see the details of the observation here).
-  In October, part of the team went to Nepal to explore the Langtang Valley in order to propose future expeditions in 2019.

▪ In April 2019, we did the first OSI-PANTHERA expeditions to Nepal. With a group of participants, we explored the Langtang Valley and observed an extremely diversified fauna and flora, very different from the environment and habitat of the snow leopard in Kyrgyzstan! The presence of the snow leopard in this Nepalese valley is actually only suspected following the story of a local guide and from feces brought back and still waiting for the genetic analysis to be performed (see here for more details).


To view the different scientific, solidarity and cultural objectives of the OSI-PANTHERA program, please click on the image below.

The scientific objectives of the program are described here in details.


During the field expedition in Kyrgyzstan, we every day define with the local guards of the reserve thee daily objectives and a “transect” (virtual line that we follow to study a phenomenon. For instance, we can count the occurrences of certain species along this line). We count the presence of indirect indices of specific animal species (e.g., scratches, footprints, feces, etc...), and we directly observe the species when it is present.
We have specific equipment and material such as automatic cameras and photo traps, that we use, after positioned in some strategic locations, to take pictures of individuals when they pass or feed, to identify them and observe them. This is an easy way to study animals that are often discrete and rarely seen during the day. We also often do sunrise or sunshine lookouts, that allows us to observe the wildlife in its natural environment.

Picture: Snow leopard track, observed in September 2017 in the Naryn reserve (photo A-L Cabanat). Hours of twinning (photo A-L Cabanat)

As part of the collaboration with the reserves, several research projects have been initiated:
-  Recording and mapping the presence indices of the snow leopard (i.e., scrapings, feces, footprints, etc...): To discuss with the local authority about increasing the reserve size.
-  Installation of photo-traps to study the behavior, the ecology and the evolution of the snow leopards’ populations, their preys and their competitors (i.e., identification of the individuals through both the photo traps and some genetic analysis)
-  Study of the snow leopard biotope (i.e., other animals and plants, geology, climate...)

Picture: Martial deer footprint (photo A-L Cabanat). What is this species? (photo A-L Cabanat)

In addition, we are doing an “Active protection”. It consists of both protecting all information about the individuals’ geographical positions and discouraging and preventing hunters from finding the animals. We are also working on an economic valuation of the snow leopard protection, in order to contribute to the local inhabitants’ awareness regarding the animals and their ecosystem’s protection.

Here is a short video showing an overview of an OSI-Panthera expedition. Thanks to Bruno Cédat, director of this video and participant in the August 2017 expedition to the Naryn reserve.


Here, please find a list of several volunteer missions that we could assign to you to help us to move the project forward. Feel free to contact us at this address: direction osi-panthera.org.
▪ Bibliography regarding Animal Monitoring, Ethics, and Ecosystem Management:
-  Reading all the articles and reports published on the OSI-PANTHERA website
-  Completing and/or updating these reports and articles when incomplete
-  Writing new articles, and publication of them on the website
▪ Updating research protocols
▪ Updating or writing articles on the OSI PANTHERA website regarding these protocols
▪ Data sorting, cleaning, and data analysis
▪ Publication of the data and results in scientific journals

You can find here multiple reports and articles of students who did internship with us and went on field expeditions to study the snow leopard. —> http://www.osi-panthera.org/Rapport...

If a student registers on an OSI-PANTHERA Expedition:
-  Recording and mapping of signs of presence of the snow leopard (i.e., scrapings, feces, footprints, etc...): To discuss with the local authority about increasing the reserve size.
-  Installation of photo-traps to study the behavior, the ecology and the evolution of the snow leopards’ populations, their preys and their competitors (i.e., identification of the individuals through both the photo traps and some genetic analysis)
-  Study of the snow leopard biotope (i.e., other animals and plants, geology, climate...)
-  Transport of genetic samples (feces, hair, skin samples...)


▪ Since 2007, we are collaborating with the Sarychat-Ertash nature reserve
▪ Since the start, 198 European participants from 11 to 72 years old participated to this adventure!
▪ in 2017, 47 samples of snow leopard feces samples were collected (24 in the Sarychat-Ertash reserve and 23 in the Naryn one)!
▪ in 2017, 2010 wildlife photos including 265 snow leopard photos (110 in the Sarychat-Ertash reserve and 145 in the Naryn one), as well as numerous videos, were recorded by our photo traps!


The Snow leopard (Panthera uncia or Uncia uncia in Latin), is visually different from the other leopard species mainly because of its pale grey color with small black marks on its head, its neck and its lower legs. In addition, its back and sides are spotted and its chest is covered with a white and silky fur.
When the snow leopard jumps, its long tail serves as a pendulum to keep its balance. The snow leopard lives in the rocky mountains of Central Asia (i.e., Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Bhutan, ...). To our knowledge, its geographical range actually covers over 12 countries, around the northern and southwestern borders of China (i.e., Hindu Kush, Altai and Himalayas) (look here to know more about its geographical repartition).

The snow leopard’s natural habitat is very difficult to access, its population density is low and it has a very fierce behavior, which explain our poor knowledge about this wild cat ecology and natural life.
Another interesting particularity is that young snow leopards both purrs like little cats and have big and round pupils like big felines. The snow leopard, while being part of the felines, is actually a little distant phylogenetically from the other well-known felidae.

There is a big lack of information about the biology, behavior and ecology of the snow leopard compared to other panthers and leopards. We know that this species is adapted to the mountains of Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan, where the conditions are harsh, with intense, cold and violent winds. To withstand these extreme climatic conditions, its hairs are longer and thicker than those of the other leopard species living in environment with warmer and more stable climatic conditions. Its long and bushy tail, which can be up to a meter long, sometimes serves as a “scarf” when the snow leopard wants to protect itself from cold and intense storms. The snow leopard moves and changes altitude according to the seasons: in summer, it moves on high rocky ridges, up to 6,000 meters above the sea level; in winter, it migrates in environments at lower altitudes, following the migrations of its prey, and thus avoiding or limiting the rigors of the climate (see the corresponding article here).

The snow leopard is particularly agile and muscular. It hunts and eats a wide variety of preys, including the ibex, marmot and bird. It has the same hunting technique than the common leopard: stalking it. Once it has chosen its prey, it crawls up to the animal. Its exceptional agility allows it to attack a prey from the top of a rocky promontory, jumping on the animal, sometimes located more than 15 meters above it. It often keeps the prey, rolling for several meters without letting it go. Its favorite preys are the bharal, the argali (mouflon), the ibex (ibex), the musk deer, but it can eat just about anything that falls under its teeth. When it succeeds in capturing a very large prey, the snow leopard can then feed on it for several days, ferociously keeping it close by it.

The future and long term survival of the snow leopard is currently very uncertain as its population has dramatically declined over the last few years. A park in the Republic of Gorno Altai in the former USSR has been created in order to protect it. As the eco-tourism and naturalist tourism is more and more popular, hunting may eventually decline, but as with many large animals, even observation in their natural habitat can pose problems and reduce, for example, their fertility rates or survival, due to their habitat degradation or animal stress. In summary, the situation is worrying! Only drastic actions to actively protect the natural habitats of the snow leopard (which is currently being done intensively), and reintroduction program, could save them from a total disappearance.

The return of the snow in autumn helps a lot to observe the snow leopard for two reasons:
-  It moves to lower altitude, but consequently its territory increases significantly with the space at its disposal;
-  The foot tracks of its walks can be seen from quite far away on the snow.
We however also organize some expeditions during the summer in order to have warmer climatic conditions for our participants.

Picture: Snow leopard footprint (Anne-Lise Cabanat)


▪ Temporary teams:
-  Groups of up to 6 people, including at least 1 scientific educator, can be hosted in the reserve during 18 to 39 days to conduct their own research project. The projects mainly depend of both the OSI objectives, and the research conducted by the local scientists.
-  Journalists, external observers and decision-makers can also join us and be included in the teams.

Picture: June 2017 in the Pamirs Alai. August 2017 expedition in Naryn (photo by Bruno Cédat)

▪ Permanent team:
-  Anne Ouvrard joined the OSI-Panthera Program in May 2010, she is the program manager.
-  In 2015, Bastien Chaix and Anne-Lise Cabanat slowly took over from Anne in these two positions: Heads of the OSI-Panthera Research Program and Heads of the Pedagogy and Logistics Program in Kyrgyzstan, in parallel with their own other professions.
-  In 2019, OSI-Panthera expeditions have been created in Nepal with Clément Burzawa as the Head of the Pedagogy and Logistics Nepal program.

The scientific educators working in Kyrgyzstan have known the area for years and some are now sharing their experience for the expeditions to Nepal!

▪ Members of the Scientific Community:
Any scientist with a recognized quality (university contract or diploma, letter from WWF, ...) can, if he wishes, work in partnership with the NGO Objectif Sciences International in Kyrgyzstan or in Nepal, in order to carry out his research and benefit from both the NGO’s knowledge and the local contacts.


The association’s current partners in the OSI-PANTHERA Program are:

  • The Sarychat-Ertash Natural Reserve, in Kyrgyzstan: :
    Réserve de Sarychat-Ertash (Kirghizie)

    Created in 1995, the Sarychat-Ertash Natural Reserve has been working for more than 20 years to protect the wildlife and its ecosystems. In addition to the snow leopard, other large mammals such as bears, wolves, lynxes, mouflons and ibex inhabit in the 150,000 hectares of this reserve. Find more details about this natural reserve here: http://www.sarychat.kg/

  • The Naryn Natural Reserve, in Kyrgyzstan:
    Réserve de Naryn (Kirghizie)

    Created in 1983 to preserve the Pine forests and the ecosystems of the inland Tien Shan, it covers about 1,000 km2 ( 100,000 hectares). The Tien Shan martial deer (Cervus canadensis songaricus) is, for example, one of its common resident.

  • Photographic Trap.fr: A passionate naturalist,

    Frédéric SALGUES founded this French company that sells photographic and video trapping equipment to people (WEBSITE: http://www.piegephotographique.fr/b...), association or community wishing to acquire high quality equipment in order, for instance, to monitor 1) animal species which are difficult to photograph, 2) some specific behaviors of some animal species such as feeding, nesting or reproducing behaviors, 3) or to count the number of individuals of a specific species or the number of different species present in a geographical.
    In spring 2010, we started a partnership with Frédéric SALGUES, which allowed us to work with 2 additional field photo traps in Kyrgyzstan. Since then, the collaboration with Frédéric SALGUES continues, with a budget allocated to these very useful photo traps. We now have a stock of photo traps that feeds on from year to year on the 2 monitored natural reserves. We are very satisfied with the equipment and service provided by this company.

  • Ala too bugu

Cette association crée en 2021 veille à protéger la vallée de Chon Jarguilchak (rive sud du lac Issyk Kul), sa faune, son ichtyofaune (poissons) et à valoriser le travail de ses habitants en développant un pastoralisme et un tourisme durable.
Nous avons à cœur de les aider dans ce projet que nous soutenons bien avant sa création.

Ce village se trouve au bord du lac Issyk kul où poussent abricotiers, pommiers, etc. en crête, en haut de la vallée la panthère veille sur ses habitants.
Vous pouvez vous aussi vous joindre à nous, notamment en nous accompagnant sur les expéditions que nous réalisons chaque année dans cette vallée au mois d’octobre.

  • S(cube)

Scientipôle Savoirs & Société, nommée S

Photos / Vidéos

Logo “Snow Leopard Foundation in Kyrgyzstan”

Logo « Panthera Foundation in Kyrgyz Republic »

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