News from Nepal

Feb 13, 2018 2:02 am

We were pleased to host Nepalese wildlife biologist Ganga Ram Regmi, Founder-Director of Global Primate Network (GPN), who traveled from Kathmandu to meet guests at a fundraiser earlier this month. Below are the highlights from Ganga’s presentation about our collaborative projects to build sustainable community-based snow leopard conservation in Nepal.

“Non-lethal methods of reducing livestock depredation by snow leopards include:”

Predator-Proof Corrals

Predator Proofed Corral

Solar-Powered Electric Fencing

Solar Powered Electric Fence

FoxLights Electronic Light Deterrents - I used to wake up at midnight in order to keep predators away, but after installing Foxlights, I can now take rest at night. – Phurba Lama.


“We provide warm clothing and basic equipment, which herders often lack, to patrol and monitor wildlife. We train up to 10 herders in each community to take responsibility for this work.”

Equipment for Herders

Coats Flashlights equipmentWe also provide radios with ‘voices’ that carry out over the herd and allow the herder to be away for a short time without worrying about his animals. The radios also enable families to listen to GPNs weekly radio program, Surroundings of the Snow Leopard, which reaches one million households throughout Nepal.”



“Snow Leopard Day Festivals and the school-based Snow Leopard Scouts engage school children in hands-on conservation action such as learning from Tashi Ghale, GPNs expert, below, how to monitor snow leopards using trail cameras.”

Snow Leopard Scouts learning about camera-trap photography

Snow Leopard Scouts learning about camera trap technology Nepal

All photos courtesy of Ganga Ram Regmi/Tashi. R. Ghale/GPN

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Dr. Rodney Jackson – 2018 Indianapolis Prize Finalist

Feb 6, 2018 8:01 am

Rodney JacksonFinalists Announced for World’s Leading Animal Conservation Award

Six conservation heroes in the running for the quarter million-dollar Indianapolis Prize


INDIANAPOLIS – Officials from the Indianapolis Prize today named Snow Leopard Conservancy’s Dr. Rodney Jackson as one of six Finalists for the world’s leading award for animal conservation.

Dr. Rodney Jackson joins conservation heroes Dr. Joel Berger, Dr. P. Dee Boersma, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Dr. Russell Mittermeier and Dr. Carl Safina in the running for the prestigious title of Indianapolis Prize Winner and an unrestricted $250,000 prize.

The Indianapolis Prize was created in 2006 to recognize best-in-class conservation solutions, bring innovative ideas to scale and reward the conservation heroes who have achieved major victories in saving species from extinction.

“The Indianapolis Prize Finalists are consistent winners in the ongoing battles to save threatened species,” said Michael I. Crowther, chief executive officer of the Indianapolis Zoological Society, Inc., which administers the Indianapolis Prize as one of its signature global conservation initiatives. “By telling the stories of their heroism and their victories, the Indianapolis Prize aims to inspire more people to work for a planet that future generations will be happy to inherit, rather than be forced to endure.”

“The Indianapolis Prize is unique for the visibility and resources it brings to wildlife conservation,” said Dr. Jackson. “Receiving the Prize would help me secure the sustainability of the Snow Leopard Conservancy while devoting my time to mentoring the next generation of passionate snow leopard conservationists. These young men and women inhabit my dream of a future where snow leopards flourish throughout Asia’s high mountains. The Indianapolis Prize would help me realize that dream.”

The 2018 Indianapolis Prize Finalists include:

Joel Berger, Ph.D. (Colorado State University; Wildlife Conservation Society) — Distinguished scientist leading projects examining the effects of climate change on musk ox in the Alaskan Arctic, the impacts of energy development on wildlife in Greater Yellowstone, the threat of large carnivores on the conservation of endangered species such as Andean deer (huemul), the development of pronghorn antelope migration corridors, and saiga antelope conservation in Mongolia. Finalist for the 2014 and 2016 Indianapolis Prize.

P. Dee Boersma, Ph.D. (University of Washington; Center for Ecosystem Sentinels) — Conservationist dedicated to the study of global warming’s impact on penguins; successful in stopping both harvesting and the development of oil tanker lanes through penguin colonies.

Sylvia Earle, Ph.D. (Deep Ocean Exploration and Research; Mission Blue; SEAlliance) — Oceanographer, author and founder of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research, Inc., Mission Blue and SEAlliance. Focused on researching ocean ecosystems, developing new exploration technologies and creating a global network of marine protected areas. Led more than 100 expeditions and logged more than 7,000 hours underwater.

Rodney Jackson, Ph.D. (Snow Leopard Conservancy) —  Conducted first radio-tracking study of snow leopards in the 1980s; leader in engaging communities as co-equals in successful conservation strategies; collaborator in a range-wide genetic study that revealed the likelihood of three subspecies of snow leopards, contributed to their reclassification from endangered to vulnerable, and continues to create innovative conservation solutions across large portions of the species’ vast geographic range. Finalist for the 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2016 Indianapolis Prize.

Russell Mittermeier, Ph.D. (Global Wildlife Conservation) — Visionary leader able to motivate every level of conservation to support the greater good of many species, including saki and muriqui monkeys and other neotropical primates; one of the first academic primatologists to become concerned with the welfare and conservation of primates. Finalist for the 2012 and 2014 Indianapolis Prize.

Carl Safina, Ph.D. (The Safina Center) — Brought ocean conservation into the environmental mainstream by using science, art and literature to inspire a “sea ethic.” Established a sustainable seafood program, connecting science-based criteria with consumers; led efforts to ban high-seas drift nets and reform federal fisheries laws. Finalist for the 2010, 2014 and 2016 Indianapolis Prize.

At a time in which animals are going extinct at a rate not seen since the era of dinosaurs, a 2018 Atomik Research survey* finds that 9 in 10 Americans believe the government (federal and state) should do more to promote policies that protect endangered animals, and when give the definition of an animal conservationist, 83 percent of Americans say animal conservationists qualify as heroes.

“[The Indianapolis Prize] brings the most incredible people together to talk about their work and give us a message about where to go from here,” said Sigourney Weaver, actor and 2016 Jane Alexander Global Wildlife Ambassador, a title administered by the Indianapolis Prize to honor public figures who have been effective voices for wildlife conservation.

The 2018 Indianapolis Prize Jury, comprised of distinguished scientists and conservation leaders, will determine the Winner of the 2018 Indianapolis Prize, its $250,000 cash award and the Lilly Medal, an original work of art that signifies the Winner’s contributions to saving some of the world’s most threatened animals. Each of the five Finalists will receive $10,000.

The 2018 Indianapolis Prize Winner will be announced in late spring and formally honored at the Indianapolis Prize Gala presented by Cummins Inc. on Sept. 29, 2018 in Indianapolis.

“Winning the Indianapolis Prize gave my organizations a much bigger platform from which we could reach people with our conservation message,” said 2016 Prize Winner Dr. Carl Jones, chief scientist of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and scientific director the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. “The field of animal conservation is fortunate to have an award that recognizes and celebrates individuals who have dedicated their life’s work to understanding biodiversity and protecting the species on which entire ecosystems depend.”

The Indianapolis Prize was first awarded in 2006 to Dr. George Archibald, the co-founder of the International Crane Foundation. The 2008 Winner was George Schaller, Ph.D., known as one of the founding fathers of wildlife conservation, and both a senior conservationist for the Wildlife Conservation Society and vice president for Panthera. In 2010, Iain Douglas Hamilton, Ph.D., founder of Save the Elephants, received the Prize for his pioneering research in elephant social behavior and for leading the way in the fight against the poaching of African elephants. Steven Amstrup, Ph.D., chief scientist for Polar Bears International, received the 2012 Prize for his work promoting the cause of the world’s largest land carnivore. In 2014, Dr. Patricia C. Wright, founder of Centre ValBio, became the first woman awarded the Indianapolis Prize for her dedication to saving Madagascar’s famed lemurs from extinction. Last year, Dr. Carl Jones received the 2016 Indianapolis Prize for his species recovery success on the island of Mauritius, including the echo parakeet, pink pigeon and Mauritius kestrel.

The Indianapolis Prize recognizes and rewards conservationists who have achieved major victories in advancing the sustainability of an animal species or group of species. Winners receive the Lilly Medal and an unrestricted $250,000 award. Remaining Finalists each receive $10,000. The Indianapolis Prize has received support from the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation since its inception.

Featured photo courtesy of Karen Czekalski.

logo 1Indianapolis Prize logo


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Making a Difference For Snow Leopards

Dec 12, 2017 12:47 pm

Ghulam's trail camera photo resized

Camera-trap photo: Ghulam Mohammad

“Helping this incredible endangered species and the people who share its environment – not one or the other, but both are equally important to Ghulam and me.”  - Shafqat Hussain

In our November newsletter, we introduced you to our partners in Pakistan, Ghulam Mohammad and Shafqat Hussain. Ghulam grew up in a small village high in the Karakorum Mountains. His life as a herdsman changed when his family moved to the town of Skardu. It was there that he began to fulfill his curiosity and passion for education, was eventually accepted into college, and after his father passed away with the help of his family was able to complete his education. 

Picture GM

“It has been an amazing journey for me, from nothing to everything.” – Ghulam Mohammad

As Ghulam says, he went from Baltistan’s meadows and pastures to Norway for a course on Environmental and Sustainable Development and then to heading an organization that has been awarded a United Nations Equator Prize.

Working with Shafqat through the Baltistan Wildlife Conservation and Development Organization, supported by the Snow Leopard Conservancy, Ghulam says, “I have tried to change the negative impact of snow leopards on people’s lives. Now I see this cat as a beautiful animal that is also beneficial to people…I traveled a long path to be where I am today, but my struggles were worth it.”


Ghulam recounts a particularly inspiring moment when he provided compensation funds to an elderly woman who had lost her entire herd to an attack by a snow leopard. ”I was so happy and satisfied to see the gratefulness in her eyes.” On the other hand, Ghulam says, “the greatest challenge we have is financial sustainability of insurance subsidies. In our experience, the financial cost of predation is very high.” Ghulam also remembers a child who participated in a speech competition. “He didn’t win a prize, but he worked hard the next year and won the 2nd prize for the speech competition. I was so inspired to see his motivation to learn about snow leopards.”

Please help us make our match and ensure that the Snow Leopard Conservancy can continue to support this vital work along with our other community-based programs aimed at helping indigenous people take the forefront in preserving their natural heritage.


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Saving Snow Leopards in Baltistan

Nov 13, 2017 2:01 pm
This fall, we take you behind the scenes with our long-time partners in Pakistan whose work is made possible by your support. Thank you!
Masthead 4

When Shafqat Hussain was a boy, growing up in the lowlands of Pakistan, his schoolmates called him Jungly—wild man.  

Shafqat Hussain warming a goat kid

Shafqat Hussain warming a goat kid

At the same time, Ghulam Mohammad was growing up in a small village high in the Karakorum Mountains. Being a strong child, he was sent to the pastures to tend the livestock—a job more important than attending school. When a flood destroyed half his village, Ghulam’s family moved to the town of Skardu on the Indus River. With no livestock to tend, Ghulam enrolled in primary school and thus began to satisfy his curiosity and passion for education. 

The two men met in Baltistan shortly before Shafqat launched Project Snow Leopard in 1998. Livestock insurance was the initial focus in a region where households earn about $500/year. A family’s herds are the equivalent of their life savings. Shafqat founded Full Moon Night Trekking whose profits would supplement the premiums paid by herders, based on 1% of the value of one goat. This program earned Shafqat a Rolex Associate Laureate Award in 2006. 

aerial view resized

A key aspect of Project Snow Leopard’s success is local participation at every level, including control of the income from their eco-tourism enterprise, Full Moon Night Trekking. This aerial view of Skardu illustrates the attraction of Pakistan’s northern areas to mountain climbers and other hardy adventure travelers.

The Snow Leopard Conservancy and Project Snow Leopard have collaborated since 2003. Your donor dollars have enabled conservation action reaching seventeen villages. The program now operates under the Baltistan Wildlife Conservation and Development Organization (BWCDO). With Ghulam serving as General Manager, Shafqat remains as a board member and advisor. 

Fifty livestock corrals have been made secure from nighttime raiding by snow leopards or wolves.

Predator-proofed corrals help keep snow leopards alive.

Predator-proofed corrals help keep snow leopards alive.

BWCDO was one of fifteen recipients—the first ever from Pakistan—to be honored with a 2017 Equator Prize, awarded by the United Nations Development Programme, recognizing outstanding community efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Ghulam's trail camera photo resized

This beauty was filmed this past April by one of Ghulam’s trail cameras. Click here to see the video.

Ghulam described seeing his first wild snow leopard in winter 2011.  

“I was fixing a camera trap in a village where there had been predation by snow leopards. When I started to return home, I realized I had forgotten to switch on the camera. It was dark when I got back; I turned on my torch and saw the snow leopard right there eating the goat it had earlier killed. I was so excited to see it front of me just a few meters away. My companion was scared, but I did not feel any fear.”

We asked Ghulam how he came to be a champion of snow leopards.

“Since I started school late, I was only in 6th class when my parents arranged my marriage and I became a husband. I was sixteen years old. My wife was very supportive, and I was able to attend high school in Karachi.”


Ghulam setting a trail camera

“Before I joined BWCDO, I worked as a research assistant with the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme. Seeing ibex from our forest hut triggered my interest in wildlife and issues related to conservation. I realized that I could combine my interest with service to the region. It is a kind of dream come true for me because it became part of my job and part of my identity. I feel proud to be part of snow leopard conservation. People know me as Snow Leopard Man.”

school based program resized 2

Environmental Education is a major focus of BWCDO’s mission. Over the past thirteen years, Ghulam (far right) has trained teachers and conducted activities throughout Baltistan that promote awareness of snow leopards and the mountain ecosystem. Since 2015, he has spearheaded International Snow Leopard Day celebrations, bringing the community together with teachers and students from area schools.

“We are grateful,” says Ghulam,”for the Conservancy’s long-standing financial and technical support, and we extend sincere thanks to all the donors who are helping to save the beautiful snow leopards of beautiful Baltistan.”

Please help us ensure that the Snow Leopard Conservancy can continue to support this vital work, along with our other community-based programs aimed at helping indigenous people take the forefront in preserving their natural heritage.

We cannot do it without you!

Thank you,



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International Snow Leopard Day 2017

Oct 23, 2017 7:01 am

BurrowingOwlDonBrubakerWSFWS article aWe dedicate this International Snow Leopard Day 2017 to Community.  Most importantly, to the communities who are on the front lines of snow leopard conservation in Central Asia. But also to our own community here in Boyes Hot Springs where the Snow Leopard Conservancy is based. We are so grateful that our small office, our home, and indeed the whole neighborhood were saved from the wildfire inferno this past two weeks. We grieve with our larger community for what was lost, more than 5,700 homes and businesses.  Not to diminish the human toll, our thoughts go out to our Sonoma County bio-community, the magnificent Manzanita chaparral, the venerable oaks, bay laurel, and big leaf maple, the birds, black bears, and bobcats, deer, squirrels, and skunks, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and mountain lions—the toll on our wild spirits and wild places remains unknown.  We celebrate the signs of hope where we know there are unburned patches that would serve as refuge, and in this little burrowing owl who emerged from burned grassland in southern Sonoma County, photographed by Don Brubaker, USFWS – Refuges. Thanks to all of you who sent us words of encouragement and support…..Dr. Rodney Jackson and the Snow Leopard Conservancy Team.


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