The snow leopard is an endangered species and globally their population may be as low as 4000 with Nepal being home to an estimated 350-500 individuals. They share their habitat with impoverished local people whose average per capita annual income can be as low as $250 to $400 per household.
The snow leopard is driven to prey on domestic sheep due to diminishing prey populations and inadequate livestock protection measures. Livestock losses from snow leopard depredation in Mustang in 2010-2011 were as high as 6.6.% of the livestock holdings. This project’s aim is to advance community-based stewardship of the snow leopard through education, research and grassroots conservation action. Along with a strong, scientific wildlife research component, the project is successfully involving local youth in conservation action through active participation in wildlife monitoring as 'Snow Leopard Scouts', as well as establishing a network of community-based savings and credit committees that will benefit the local people, snow leopards, prey populations and livestock. The ultimate goal is to create a safe corridor of 'predator friendly communities' at a landscape scale where snow leopards may pass through without persecution from the local people.
Outcomes from the 2014 Taronga Field Grant include a highly successful Snow Leopard Scouts conservation camp in the Lower Mustang in Annapurna area. Well over 100 community members, students, officials and teaches were made aware of snow leopards in the area and their role in maintaining ecosystem function. A Snow Leopard scouts committee was also formally formed with 11 members. In the Tiche village of the Manang district, a snow leopard savings and credit group was formed consisting of 26 members. The members were trained to help enable the community to increase their household income and allocate 25% of their profit for snow leopard conservation activities.
The National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) was established in 1982 by a Legislative Act as an autonomous and not-for-profit organisation, mandated to work in the field of nature conservation in Nepal. The Snow Leopard Conservancy advances community-based stewardship of the snow leopard through education, research, and grassroots conservation action.
What can you do?
Keep and eye out for trade in wildlife products: Illegal international trade in wildlife including many bird and reptile species and products such as ivory, rhino horn and tiger bone has increased dramatically in recent years. This practice is decimating our natural resources at an unprecedented rate. Groups working on the ground to stop this are not given the legal power or financial support necessary to track and prosecute these highly efficient, organised criminals. Speak out about this important issue – tell local, state and federal or international authorities that you support action to conserve wildlife and their habitats.