During the summer and fall of 2005 while documenting snow leopard (Panthera uncia) abundance (McCarthy et al 2008), we collected ancillary camera-trap photos taken in the Tien Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan and assessed their usefulness for biodiversity surveys of larger animal species. The study was conducted in 2 separate areas; one that had been declared a strictly protected national park, and a second that had no formal protection but was used as a hunting reserve by foreign interests. By using 22–24 pairs of cameras placed for 49 days in both areas, we photographed 9 of 13 probably occurring large (>1 kg) mammal species identified in a country-wide review. Of the 9 species that appeared in photographs, 4 also were identified genetically from simultaneously collected scat samples. Two species identified by the genetic sample were not photographed. Photo rates differed between areas and corresponded to independent abundance estimates for snow leopards (from fecal genetic individual identification), and for argali (Ovus ammon) and Siberian ibex (Capra ibex; both from visual surveys). The photo rates of ungulates were highest, and those for large carnivores were lowest, in the “strictly protected area,” which suggested an effect from illicit control of predators by occupants of the surrounding villages. In contrast, in the unprotected area, where hunting was managed and local residents and visitors were few, the species diversity and photo rates for most species were higher. Our use of ancillary camera-trap photos was valuable for authenticating species presence and, sometimes, for documenting differences in species abundances between areas with different conservation histories. In addition, this study indicates the importance of continued outreach and collaboration with villagers to ensure effective wildlife conservation within Kyrgyz national parks.
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