The Snow Leopard Conservation aims to better understand the snow leopard and protect this endangered animal found in the rugged mountains of Central Asia. The organization works with a community-based conservation approach based on an improved scientific understanding of the elusive cat’s behaviour, needs, habitats and threats.
Threats include poaching, loss of habitat of its prey species, killing of the mighty leopards by the prey herders in retribution, mining and climate change. Snow Leopards are poached for their bones, skin, and organs which are used in traditional Asian medicine. Snow Leopard Conservancy developed innovative, community-based livestock corral predator-proofing programs. Snow Leopard Conservancy and its partners have led the way in radio-tracking, trail camera monitoring, and community-based eco-tourism and livestock insurance programs. Snow Leopard Conservancy and its partners developed Snow Leopard Day festivals and community-based conservation education for herder communities and school children.
Name of organisation: Snow Leopard Conservancy
Year of founding: 2009
States of operation: Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand
Key sector: Wildlife conservation, Eco-tourism
With activities in Ladakh and through partnership with the Mountain Institute, the organization tested and refined innovative techniques for engaging local people in community based conservation of snow leopards and their prey. Registered as SLC-India Trust in 2003 as an environmental and social NGO under Indian law, from 2010 onwards, it began working independently of Snow Leopard Conservancy.
The organization seeks to work with local partners and herder communities taking the front line in preserving the biodiversity by providing the needed technical and financial assistance for community-based activities. The programs seek to build community ownership of projects, long-term self-reliance, and ecosystem health by involving communities in non-invasive baseline research on snow leopards, their prey and habitat, blending western science with indigenous knowledge and training of the herders.
The organization initiated a corral predator-proofing program to prevent retributive killing of snow leopards by livestock owners. Working with the Mountain Institute and a grant from UNESCO, the recent launch of the award-winning Himalayan Home-stays program was another landmark achievement of the organization. In 2004 the organization was able to transfer many of its ideas to community-based tourism initiatives in Spiti under a partnership with MUSE. Due to the incredible protection efforts of the local people, government, and SLC-India Trust, snow leopards are being seen regularly in Hemis National Park. Between 2002 and 2005, working in collaboration with the J&K Wildlife Department in Hemis National Park, the organization pioneered the use of noninvasive camera traps to assess snow leopard abundance and better estimate the population size of this shy, rarely seen cat.
In 2005, a partnership with the Pune-based nonprofit, Kalpavriksh developed a community-based environmental education program for rural Ladakh, focussing on conservation of snow leopards and other wildlife of the local trans-Himalayan region. Kalpavriksh developed an educator’s handbook and locally relevant educational material for classes 4 to 8 to bring quality education to children. SLC India and Kalpavriksh are today networking with other NGOs in the area to share the educational materials and program.