Not All Traps Are Camera Traps


snow leopard being pulled from a livestock pen



It appears as if this snow leopard might be in serious trouble, doesn’t it? The village of Hushey, Baltistan, is in northern Pakistan. The raising of sheep and goats makes up a big part of the people’s livelihood in Hushey. At night the herds are kept in low-roofed enclosures called xalas. Some of these enclosures are large enough to hold several dozen animals. The snow leopard shown in the photograph managed to push aside a large rock covering the entrance to a xala, slip inside, and kill eighteen sheep and goats. This was a great loss to a village where the annual income is between three and four hundred dollars a year much of which comes from the herds.

The snow leopard was not able to find its way out of the enclosure and the people found it the next morning along with the dead sheep and goats. It would not be a suprise to learn that the people of Hushey killed the snow leopard. But they didn’t. Here is an account of the event from a member of the World Conservation Union – Pakistan:

The snow leopard was not willing to come out on its own. It took almost four hours to convince the snow leopard to come out. We opened almost one side and the roof of the shed, to make it easy for the snow leopard, however, he was much frightened knowing the situation that almost 300 villagers including women and children were there to see a glimpse of the stranger guest. Three gentlemen entered the shed and helped each other to push it out, but their attempt failed and lastly it slipped behind the door of the shed. One man caught it by the tail from the roof of the shed and heaved it out and let it go. It vanished after three or four jumps up the slopes.

For their magnanimous action, Hushey was given the 2004 Conservation Hero Award by Disney Conservation Fund and Snow Leopard Conservancy has assisted the villagers in predator proofing their xala. It was a happy ending to what might have been a trajedy for the people and a snow leopard.