Buyanbadrakh calling in the spirits


Partner:  Worldwide Indigenous Science Network (WISN)




Since 2010, the Snow Leopard Conservancy has worked with WISN to build a coalition of Indigenous Cultural Practitioners (ICPs) who live and work in snow leopard habitat. The term ICP includes shamans, tribal medicine people, sacred site guardians, and revered elders.

The conservation community increasingly recognizes that cultural and biological diversity are deeply linked and programs should take into account the ethical, cultural and spiritual values of nature. The framework for this creative merger is provided for in the United Nations’ Brundtland Report and Agenda 21 of the World Summit on Sustainable Development.  See links to these and other resources at the end of this page.


The goals in our Sacred Species, Sacred Sites program are:


  • Merging western and indigenous approaches to scientific knowledge;
  • Revitalizing ancient ceremonies to remember and honor the snow leopard spirit as a unifier of humanity;
  • Establishing sacred sites as education/interpretive centers for the spiritual and terrestrial ecology of snow leopards;
  • Empowering cultural practitioners with new communication technologies, and building an on-line network.


Rodney sitting at a desk

Rodney Jackson speaking at Global Snow Leopard Forum (photo: Oleg Loginov)


In 2012, the Kyrgyzstan Head of State initiated a Ministry-level effort to create a Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Plan (GSLEP).  See Global Plan in our Conservation section for details.  This effort presented the first-ever opportunity to directly involve ICPs in such high-level planning for conservation.

 The Conservancy convened a workshop of ICPs living and working in snow leopard habitat. Participants gathered in Kyrgyzstan and exchanged their experiences of and connections to snow leopards, and developed a Statement to present to the GSLEP Forum.

In October 2013, the Forum delegates met at the Kyrgyz State Residence where the GSLEP was endorsed by all twelve snow leopard range countries. Rodney Jackson addressed the assembly and read excerpts from the ICP Statement.  Kyrgyz Sacred Site Guardian Zhaparkul Raiymkulov was asked to perform a brief closing prayer.


 See a 15 minute video of this historic occasion.




United Nations Framework

Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report, from the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), 1987.

Agenda 21, UN Conference on Environment and Development, 1992.


Institutions and Websites

International Society of Ethnobiology (ISE) (  As a member of ISE, the Conservancy has committed to uphold the ISE Code of Ethics, which acknowledges that biological and cultural harms have resulted from research undertaken without the consent of Indigenous peoples. It affirms the commitment of the ISE to work collaboratively, in ways that: support community-driven development of Indigenous peoples’ cultures and languages; acknowledge Indigenous cultural and intellectual property rights; protect the inextricable linkages between cultural, linguistic and biological diversity; and contribute to positive, beneficial and harmonious relationships in the field of ethnobiology.

The fundamental value underlying the Code of Ethics is the concept of mindfulness – a continual willingness to evaluate one’s own understandings, actions, and responsibilities to others. Read the complete Code here: International Society of Ethnobiology (2006). International Society of Ethnobiology Code of Ethics (with 2008 additions).


IUCN Specialist Group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas