How Intermap is Enabling Conservation of Snow Leopard in Mongolia


Intermap Technologies, a global enabler in geospatial content development and intelligence solutions, has announced a new collaboration with The Snow Leopard Trust to provide high-resolution elevation models to scientists who are researching snow leopard behavior to aid the conservation of the species.

The Snow Leopard Trust started the first long-term study of snow leopards in the Tost Mountains in Southern Mongolia in 2008. The snow leopard is a top predator with a habitat range of over two million km2, but scientists estimate there may be only 3,900 – 6,400 snow leopards left in the wild.

Researchers seek to learn more about snow leopard ecology, such as how the snow leopards use the mountainous terrain, to guide the conservation of the species. Intermap is an acknowledged expert at modeling complex, dynamic mountainous terrain in austere environments. Intermap is supporting this exciting project by providing 3D digital elevation models (DEMs) in Southern Mongolia.

The Snow Leopard Trust is currently exploring whether snow leopards stay longer at kill sites in rugged terrain, which offer better escape routes and hiding places. Intermap’s NEXTMap high-resolution, 3D digital elevation model and all-domain routing analysis will be used to conduct studies along with the GPS tracking data from snow leopard collars to follow their movement and determine if terrain ruggedness affects the amount of time they spend at kill sites.

The Snow Leopard Trust began their study using a 30-meter resolution DEM. The initial results were unclear because cliffs, hills and other terrain features are not well represented in a coarse DEM. Intermap’s high-resolution, 3D elevation datasets are readily available to be integrated into studies like this or other all-domain command and control analysis for any location in the world.

The Snow Leopard Trust was able to access Intermap’s high-resolution DEM for the study area and start scenario modeling along with data collected in the field in a quick and efficient manner.

Using Intermap’s DEM, the preliminary results suggest that terrain did affect snow leopard behavior around kill sites where there was adequate conceal and cover. Researchers found that snow leopards stayed longer at kill sites of their largest prey when the kills were made in rugged terrain.

They also found that snow leopards stayed longer at the kill sites of wild prey, compared with domestic prey, when the prey were larger in size. Located just miles from the Chinese border, the Tost Mountain region covers Mongolia’s two largest, strictly protected areas.

These results suggest that potential risk from humans changed how snow leopards behave at their kill sites in the Tost Mountain region. This study will help The Snow Leopard Trust gain more insight into the patterns of snow leopards and develop ways to help conserve the species.

Research continues Intermap’s 102-year history of innovation and rapid delivery of information from sensors to decision makers

The snow leopard research is the latest in Intermap’s 102-year history of innovation. The Company has powered a diverse array of projects, ranging from aerial photography and national mapping programs to data collection with proprietary sensors, creating customer-specific analytics in insurance, aviation, telecom and rail markets and now conservation efforts in Mongolia.

Intermap’s roots date back to 1919, when its predecessor, Pennsylvania Aero Service Corporation (Aero Service), was founded. Aero Service is the oldest flying corporation in the world and used aircrafts to collect aerial photos of Philadelphia with a camera attached to the plane’s cockpit cowling.

Aero Service participated in several major projects, including aerial surveying work for the U.S. Geological Survey and for the European and Pacific theaters during World War II. After a series of strategic acquisitions from 1961 to 1997, Intermap became a listed company and continued to acquire and develop cutting-edge remote sensing capabilities. Intermap commercializes its technology and 3D data library, creating leading products and solutions that offer non-expert users the ability to subscribe to geospatial solutions.

“We are pleased to support the Snow Leopard Trust’s conservation efforts in Mongolia,” said Patrick A. Blott, Intermap Chairman and CEO. “Intermap’s high-resolution terrain data is a rapid, efficient and accessible solution for the researchers to analyze the mountainous terrain in the snow leopard habitat and learn more about their behavior. We are building on our history by innovating and developing the future of geospatial intelligence with next-generation technology and capabilities. Our vertically integrated software and solutions simplify large-scale geospatial data challenges and allow non-expert users to get answers quickly and efficiently down range at the edge, anywhere and in any environment. We are continuing to build partnerships with key industry players to serve government and commercial clients around the world.”