-Understanding local people's opinions about wolves, brown bears, and other large carnivores
-Measuring the local magnitude of the human-carnivore conflict
-Training Kafkas University biology students in using photo traps and radio tracking for studying wildlife
-Determining the size and fluctuations of wolf and bear populations
-Improving the potential of locally-based ecotourism focused on big carnivores
Being very few scientists who studies big mammals in Turkey leads the Universities having limited resources on this subject. In particular biology students, in general the public interest for big mammals tends to increase in Turkey. Consequently, creating opportunities for gaining experience about these subjects and supporting the students and young researchers who are interested in these subjects are important and privileged for conservation in Turkey. Within Kars Region Biodiversity Project, objectives of Kars Big Carnivores Project are, teaching students of Kafkas University Biology department to, mammals like wolves and brown bears and known threats to these species, how a research conducted about these species, research methods and in particular how to study ecology of these species by using phototraps and improving participants capacity by activities and giving basic knowledge in this subject. Studies are coordinated with teachers of Biology department.
Heat and movement sensitive camera systems (phototraps) have become one of the most important research tools for collecting different types of data on big mammal populations. When phototraps are used properly, wildlife biologists can determine the mammal species community in a region, estimate their population sizes, and measure the spatial and temporal population changes. Increasing numbers of successful phototrap studies have recently been added to the scientific literature, especially in last 5 years.
Because there are very few scientists who study big mammals in Turkey, Turkish universities have limited expertise and few resources on this subject. In general, the public interest for big mammals is increasing in Turkey, in particular among students. Consequently, creating research opportunities to gain experience in this field and to support the students and young researchers who are interested in these subjects are important for carnivore research and conservation in the country. Within the Kars Region Biodiversity Project, the objectives of the Kars Large Carnivores Project are to teach the students of Kafkas University Biology Department how to study the ecology and conservation biology of mammals like wolves and brown bears, to train the students in research methods, in particular how to use track and scat identification, phototraps, radio tracking, and remote sensing, to understand the regional ecology and known threats to these species, and to improve local knowledge and conservation awareness by conducting an environmental education campaign on large carnivores. The project is conducted in collaboration with the biology faculty of Kafkas University.
With the Kafkas biology department students, we have so far conducted intensive theoretical and applied training workshops on large carnivore research and conservation. After the classroom sessions, chosen participants carried out field studies with camera traps in the Sarıkamış Forest National Park and opinion surveys on large carnivores in the surrounding villages. This project also provides crucial thesis research opportunities for Kafkas and other university graduate students.