Partners: Global Primate Network (GPN); Department of National Parks & Wildlife Conservation; Mountain Spirit; National Trust for Nature Conservation-Annapurna Conservation Area Project
Snow Leopard Conservancy Director Rodney Jackson and associates conducted the World’s first radio-collaring study of snow leopards from 1981 to 1985 in Nepal’s remote west. This seminal study was featured in theJune 1986 National Geographic, and led to the publication of Darla Hillard’s account,Vanishing Tracks: Four Years Among the Snow Leopards of Nepal.
Nepal is thought to harbor 300-500 snow leopards, making it an important range country (along with China and Mongolia). In 2005, the Conservancy’s former Regional Conservation Director, Som Ale, photographed a snow leopard in Sagarmatha (Mount Everest) National Park —the first confirmed sighting since the 1960s for this UNESCO-acclaimed protected area.
The Conservancy facilitates conservation action through:
Savings & Credit Associations in the Mount Everest Region.
The program was established in four communities off the main Everest Base Camp trekking trail and thus lacking the benefits from tourism. The goal was to help local households increase their income as a means for mitigating the periodic loss of livestock to predation. The Conservancy provides each participating village with start-up funding and training in accounting and transparent management with safeguards to prevent or minimize loan defaults. Each household agrees to invest a nominal sum each month in the savings fund. Loans are made to promote local livelihood-related activities. A portion of the interest is set aside for projects that contribute to snow leopard conservation. There are now 179 members in four associations, primarily led by women. One group doubled their savings within a year by holding special cultural shows for tourists and making loans to members at 18% interest instead of the 25-30% charged by money lenders. We are working with Mountain Spirit to expand this successful program.
Protecting Livestock from Predation
In the north-central region of Mustang, we provided twelve of the 22 yak herders with Foxlights (above), and our partners at GPN trained them in their use. These flashing lights frighten snow leopards and, thus far, have effectively deterred the big cats from attacking livestock.GPN is also monitoring snow leopards via 28 trail cameras. The resulting photos such as the beauty below, in conjunction with fecal DNA studies, will help us determine how many cats inhabit the area.
Since 2000, the Snow Leopard Conservancy has supported initiatives in Nepal to increase conservation awareness among teachers and school children.
Conservancy partners GPN currently produce a weekly radio program about snow leopards, Hiu Chituwa Ko Serofero (Surroundings of the Snow Leopard).Broadcast in the evening prime time, public interest in the program and, by extension, snow leopards, is tracked after each show. Listeners are invited to call in and answer a quiz for a chance to win a prize. While at least one hundred male and female listeners call in each week, up to 500,000 people are estimated to tune in, in a region where radio is very important to the mostly rural population.
I love this program that describes our snow leopard. I don’t miss any episode. It will be more favorable if the program is broadcast to the whole country so that all Nepalese could show concern toward this precious topic.
- Amar Sherpa, Dolpa
Snow Leopard Scouts was initiated in 2010 to teach students about snow leopards, their Nepalese habitat, and wildlife monitoring. During overnight camps, the students created artwork and prose, which we compiled into a booklet available in Nepal.
In 2015, Snow Leopard Scouts learned about Foxlights and worked with local herders to install one in a nearby livestock corral.
In 2011. we paired elder livestock herders with high school students to monitor snow leopards via trailcameras. These teams have captured many images, including a mother with cubs (photo at top of page), and images of a common leopard—proof that they overlap with snow leopards in central Nepal.
Between 2000 and 2007, we collaborated with a Nepalese nonprofit to produce a series of children’s books that were translated into three languages, including Tibetan braille, and were used widely by young readers in Nepal.
We also built the Junior Ranger Program to reach thirty schools in far western Dolpo (the site of Peter Matthiessen’ classic book, The Snow Leopard). While the program was suspended due to the civil war, several of the participating students have gone on to careers in wildlife conservation.