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Dr. Tom McCarthy, Panthera’s Species Specialist with the Snow Leopard Program, began his conservation career studying brown bears, black bears, mountain goats and caribou in Alaska in the early 1980s. A strong interest in international conservation led him to Mongolia in 1992, where, under the guidance of Dr. George Schaller, he took over the management of a long-term snow leopard research project. This six year study was the basis for his Ph.D. dissertation, completed at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and made him the first biologist to use satellite radio-collars on snow leopards.
Along with snow leopards, Dr. McCarthy has conducted ground-breaking research on wild camels and Gobi brown bears, two of Mongolia’s rarest animals. After a short stint in the Caribbean helping the island nation of Anguilla develop a protected area system, McCarthy became the Science and Conservation Director of the Snow Leopard Trust in 2000 and has since led their extensive science and community-based conservation programs across much of snow leopard range in Asia. Dr. McCarthy has established snow leopard conservation projects in Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, and Pakistan. In addition, his personal efforts have catalyzed national snow leopard conservation plans in Mongolia and Pakistan, and he has contributed to similar efforts in Bhutan, India and Uzbekistan.
From 2002-2009, Dr. McCarthy served as Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Network, a global consortium of more than 200 professionals involved in snow leopard research and conservation. Within the past few years, his research has focused on the development of genetic methods for monitoring wild snow leopard populations and the initiation of a new generation of snow leopard research in Pakistan using state-of-the-art satellite GPS collars. In collaboration with the Snow Leopard Trust, Dr. McCarthy and Dr. George Schaller have most recently chosen another snow leopard research site within Mongolia, continuing the first ever long-term intensive study of this wild cat.
Dr. McCarthy joined Panthera in July 2008 and in addition to the GPS-collaring program in Pakistan, he is now leading two new Panthera initiatives. The first is a range-wide assessment of snow leopard genetics that seeks to identify movement corridors which are critical to maintaining the health and genetic diversity of the species. The second is a revision of methods by which snow leopard populations can be monitored over time, including such novel non-invasive approaches as fecal genetics, camera trapping and statistical modeling based on sign surveys.