A World First
From a first round Sabin Snow Leopard grant from Panthera, we had sufficient funding for an initial proof of concept over 6 months with the Li Lab at McMaster University using fecal samples from captive snow leopards at the Toronto Zoo.
After 6 months of intensive work we are now at the stage where we have been able to successfully create multiple copies of a short sequence of snow leopard DNA on paper using a method known as Rolling Circle Amplification and have been able to link this to a colour response! We have also shown that the system is sensitive to a range of DNA concentrations.
This month (May 2017) I will spend time with field researchers from the Centre for Molecular Dynamics, Nepal as they monitor snow leopards in Upper Mustang. This will be an opportunity for some exploratory work in the field, to understand the conditions influencing the effectiveness of the method and to meet and form a long-term collaboration with the team.
Capacity building of the CMDN team in Nepal will be an integral part of the project.