The Snow Leopard Conservancy recognizes that a combination of indigenous knowledge and a scientific, “threats-based” analysis is key to designing site-specific initiatives that address the root causes of people-wildlife conflict.
Successful snow leopard conservation initiatives are associated with good science, where baseline information is systematically gathered and where there is sound ecological knowledge of the species and the habitat. For this reason, we support snow leopard and prey species status surveys, and conduct baseline inventories and assessments as part of the overall community-based conservation planning process. Snow leopards are most likely to be protected if the underlying key direct and indirect threats to the species are correctly identified and then effectively addressed. The Snow Leopard Conservancy focuses on preventing retaliation by shepherds for livestock depredation by snow leopards. Through this focus, we are addressing the root-causes that lead to people-wildlife conflict, primarily poor guarding and animal husbandry practices and continued depletion of the natural prey base.
Much of the snow leopard’s range is outside national parks or protected areas, yet these areas are critical habitat for linking the different sub-populations and thereby minimizing potentially harmful genetic inbreeding. Community-based conservation can significantly expand their functional role into a much larger and more regional framework by creating predator-friendly corridors between adjacent parks or reserves.
Long before the creation of national protected areas, indigenous people across the snow leopard’s range practiced natural resource management, as a pragmatic or spiritual practice. In Mongolia, for instance, community-based wildlife management goes back to the days of Gengis Khan. These institutions probably evolved to ensure more equitable access to scarce resources and to minimize internal conflict within the community through well-imbedded resource ownership access rules and land tenure rights. With the advent of modern government, many of these institutions were eliminated or essentially disenfranchised. In acknowledging the role for community-based conservation, governments and NGOs are working to resolve longstanding land tenure disputes and to strengthen collaborative management with locally-based resource user groups.