Project History & Aims
The Snow Leopard Trust (SLT) is the world’s leading authority on the study and protection of the endangered snow leopard. The trust works in 5 of the 12 countries where snow leopards are found, China, India, Krgyzstan, Mongolia and Pakistan, covering over 75% of the wild snow leopard population. The trust choose one landscape area of approximately 4000km2 in each country to focus conservation and research efforts. It aims to create sustainable conservation programmes that benefit both wildlife and the local communities, carrying out research and monitoring to continually analyse the effects of their work.
Preventing Poaching in Kyrgyzstan
Illegal wildlife hunting is one of the most pressing threats to snow leopards in Kyrgyzstan. Rangers often feel unable to control poaching, due to lack of training and equipment. In response, the SLT launched a Ranger Reward Program.
Ranger Rewards provides rangers with skills training and tools to apprehend illegal hunters, such as crime scene investigation kits. Illegal wildlife hunting is one of the most pressing threats to snow leopards in Kyrgyzstan.
Corrals Saving Snow Leopards
In 2008, a GPS collar was placed on a cat nicknamed “Longtail”. He had an incredibly long tail, even by snow leopard standards! The SLT followed Longtail for three months until suddenly, in December, his movements stopped. We soon learned that Longtail had entered a livestock corral at night and been shot by a herder. This terrible incident confirmed the importance of collaborating with herders to find peaceful ways to coexist with snow leopards. The SLT has been working with herders to protect livestock against mass depredation by “predator-proofing” corrals. In 2016, they built over a dozen corrals in Pakistan and Mongolia and in total, they’ve helped build or reinforce over 100 corrals in Mongolia, India, and Pakistan.
New Nature Reserve Created in Mongolia
After seven years of grassroots organizing by local people and staff, an 8,000 km2 landscape of prime snow leopard habitat called Tost is now the country’s first dedicated Nature Reserve for snow leopards. Support from Banham Zoo has helped towards surveys, outreach and ranger trainings in Tost.
- Tost has some of the richest snow leopard habitat
- These mountains are home to a stable, breeding population of snow leopards
- Once threatened by large-scale mining, Tost’s new designation will safeguard the land and allow the continuation of traditional herding practices
- Tost and surrounding national parks now form one of the world’s largest continuous protected snow leopard habitats
Livestock Insurance Program
The livestock insurance program helps rural communities reduce the financial impact of snow leopard predation by giving them access to compensation for animals lost.
For the families who share the snow leopard’s habitat, the loss of even a single animal to predation can create great financial hardship. Occasionally, herders may retaliate against snow leopards to protect their animals and limit their losses.
The community-managed livestock insurance program breaks this vicious circle. It operates on a village level, and works much like any other insurance scheme.
The Snow Leopard Trust provides the necessary funding to build a strong financial foundation. Then, participating herders contribute premiums for any animal they want to insure, helping the program to become self-sustaining over time.
If a family lose livestock to snow leopards, they can submit a claim and receive reimbursement for the loss. The insurance fund as well as the reimbursement process is managed by the local community.
In order to participate, each herder must sign a conservation agreement in which they pledge to protect the snow leopards and wild prey species in their area from poaching. If any community member violates this contract, they are no longer able to participate in the insurance program.
For further information go to www.snowleopard.org.
Photos courtesy of The Snow Leopard Trust.