“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.
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.