Crowdfunding Campaign:

By on 11th July 2017

Video: Dr. Natalie Schmitt ~ In Search Of The Elusive Snow Leopard:

Video Editor, Fred Olivier, @fredproductions

About The Project:

Our project aims to develop a simple, inexpensive, accurate, sensitive and portable DNA detection kit that can be used by non-experts for the rapid detection of species from the evidence they leave behind.

Although we’re designing the kit for snow leopards, the kit will have vast applications to numerous species and could become an essential tool for conservation efforts worldwide:

  • The kit will be particularly useful for the detection of rare and elusive species where scats are difficult to identify morphologically. Through the identification of animals from their scat samples we can gain an accurate estimate of population abundance.
  • The kit can also be used by customs officers to rapidly identify the remains of illegally trafficked species such as skins and bone.
  • Finally, the simple design will allow the detection kit to be used by non-experts such as local communities and for citizen science initiatives. The usability of the kit will help local people to be directly involved in identifying and mitigating threats to wildlife, thereby expanding conservation outcomes.

After an initial 6 months with a very clever biomedical lab at McMaster University, we’ve proven the concept can work! i.e we have successfully amplified a short sequence of snow leopard DNA on paper and can link it to a color response, yes or no. We have also proven that the system is sensitive to a range of DNA concentrations.

I now need your help again to fund the next 6 months of lab work at McMaster and fieldwork in Nepal with the Centre for Molecular Dynamics.

The next step will be to develop methods to increase the sensitivity and specificity of the technique to detect low concentrations of DNA and ensure that snow leopards can be distinguished from their closest relatives.

I currently have a generous grant of $20000 from Panthera and lab support from the team at McMaster but need funding to cover my living expenses for the next 6 months. $10000 is my goal.

This is a labour of love for me. I’ve been willing to sacrifice so much because I truly believe in the application of this method to help save endangered species.

By sending money to support this work – during August 2017, via our Crowdfunding Campaign on below, or at any time just using the Donate button below – you also become an essential part of this project.

(Our link and Donation button are in the “How You Can Support This Work” section near the bottom of the page)

Truly effective conservation starts and ends with the support of communities and people.


Dr. Natalie Schmitt.

A Word Of Support From Panthera:

By: Tom McCarthy, Ph. D. Executive Director – Snow Leopard Program

“Natalie’s research is of much value to the conservation of one of the world’s rarest and most enigmatic of wild cats – the snow leopard. As a poorly understood and little studied felid, conservation efforts for the endangered cat would benefit greatly from a stronger scientific underpinning than is now possible.

A denizen of Asia’s highest, most rugged and remote peaks, we now rely heavily on non-invasive techniques such as camera traps and fecal genetics to shed light on basic ecological questions including presence-absence, abundance, and population trends. All critical to the design of appropriate conservation measures.

In the case of fecal genetics, we have been hampered by misidentification of putative snow leopard feces in the wild. This has led to sample collections with more than 50% non-target species, which in turn leads to substantial funds wasted on laboratory analyses.

Natalie’s novel research aims to develop a fast and reliable way to identify snow leopard feces in the field, this limiting the time, effort, transport and lab costs wasted.

She has already made substantial strides toward development of the field ID kit, and we at Panthera have been pleased to provide support for this work through our own Snow Leopard Grants Program.

But our limited grants can only carry her work so far, and she desperately needs additional support.

As for Natalie herself, I can honestly say I have rarely worked with anyone so determined and so driven to succeed and provide a needed conservation tool. And she does so with humor and spirit, despite the fact she has, thus far, been substantially underfunded.

She has sought out partnerships in academia and in the field in snow leopard range countries, which have helped her make the positive strides she has, while stretching her existing funding. She is not one who will give up, and she has the skills and knowledge to meet her goals. And snow leopards will be better off for it.”

Website: Panthera.

How You Can Support This Work:

Option #1:

You Can Use Our Crowdfunding Campaign on!

Our crowdfunding campaign via begins at 4pm PT on Sunday July 30th 2017, and closes one month later at the end of August 2017. The target is to raise a Budget of at least $4,400 US Dollars, for the following reasons:

I am conducting the lab phase of the project at McMaster University outside Toronto, Canada. They have a team of experts assisting me in the design of the kit.

I need to fly to New York at least once in the next 6 months to meet with my collaborators and to access snow leopard samples from the American Natural History Museum.

Finally, I need to fly to Nepal to conduct field validation experiments and to collaborate with the Centre for Molecular Dynamics in helping communities struggling with snow leopard livestock depredation.

So the money is needed to at least cover the following project related expenses:

  • Return flights from Melbourne to Toronto, from Toronto to New York and from Melbourne to Kathmandu.

Here is the link to the crowdfunding page – which you can use from 4pm PT on Sunday July 30th 2017 for a period of one month:

Project Link: Identifying Snow Leopards, Tigers and other Endangered Species by developing a low-cost DNA field test kit – Part 2

Thanks in advance!


Dr. Natalie Schmitt.

Option #2:

Or…You Can Also Simply Donate Before, During or After The Campaign!

If you would like to support this research financially, but don’t wish to use the crowdfunding platform for any reason, you can make a donation at any time, which is tax deductible in the US, by simply using the Donate button on the right.

The Donate button will take you to our donations page, which has been set up on our behalf by the Foundation for Community Inspiration in the USA.

About FCI: Foundation for Community Inspiration is a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Detroit, Michigan that serves by partnering with social initiatives and community leaders to provide content development, branding, and production.

The Foundation for Community Inspiration accepts tax deductible donations in the US to directly support the research and work of Dr. Natalie Schmitt and #NatsCatsDNA.

Thank You!

Your generous contribution is greatly appreciated!

Thank you for supporting this vitally important scientific research and being part of a revolutionary way to protect endangered species such as Snow Leopards and Tigers. You are now a member of the #NatsCatsDNA trusted research team!

Please be sure to follow along with my research journey by checking my blog and Facebook page for updates!


Dr. Natalie Schmitt

Website / Blog: Dr. Natalie Schmitt – Field Reports:

Facebook Page: NatsCatsDNA: