Endangered Species

Snow Leopard Conservation

The Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystems Program (GSLEP) is a joint initiative by all 12 snow leopard range countries and has the aim of achieving the long-term survival of this endangered cat.

The GSLEP’s 1st Steering Committee meeting happened on March 19 and 20, 2015, when delegates from the range countries met with each other and several leading NGO’s such as World Wildlife Fund.

The meeting established the Steering Committee, its membership, roles, and operational guidelines. Two Global Environment Facility (GEF) grants, one for $1 million and one for $4 million, were approved.

More information is on the GSLEP website.

In November 2017, I reached out to the Snow Leopard Conservancy in California. Shavaun Kidd, who does their social media and outreach conservation education programs, wrote me a wonderful email.

She wrote that Dr. Rodney Jackson founded the Snow Leopard Conservancy and has spent his entire adult life studying and monitoring the snow leopard. This includes working with local communities to nurture mutual understanding, create a sense of personal responsibility, and encourage active participation by community members in order to develop partnerships that will one day lead to community-based stewardship. Their education programs include supporting the Snow Leopard Scout Program where students learn to set and monitor camera traps for monitoring snow leopard populations in Nepal. In Mongolia, the Conservancy has introduced Nomadic Nature Trunks (travelling classrooms with interactive lesson plans and hands-on projects) for conservation education.

The Conservancy, along with partners, also focuses on people-predator conflict mitigation. One of these programs is predator-proofing corrals so that snow leopards have a more difficult time preying upon domesticated sheep and goats. Another program uses electronic deterrents such as Foxlights which are attached to fence posts, etc., and after dark flash on and off to scare away predators such as snow leopards and wolves. The lights run on a battery that lasts for about 3 years.

The Conservancy also supports some community-based livestock insurance programs in places such as Pakistan and community-based savings and credit programs that are being successfully run by women in communities in Nepal.

They also sponsor the Land of the Snow Leopard Network, which is developing a computer app to gather current observational data of snow leopards and historical stories of a spiritual and/or cultural nature that can be passed on from one generation or community to the next and throughout the entirety of the snow leopard’s range to enhance conservation efforts from the spiritual and cultural perspective.

At the end of the day, wildlife conservation depends on local communities to support the preservation of endangered species. The Conservancy’s partners at the Wildlife Conservation Network spend 75 to 80 percent of their time working with the people, addressing living conditions, education, income, and mitigation of predator-people conflict and only about 25 percent in actual biological research. Empowering local communities to act on their own behalf in order to improve their lives while at the same time respecting and protecting other animal species that have a huge impact upon their shared ecosystem is the key to continued and successful conservation measures.

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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

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