Documentary about BWCDO

Mountain Research and Development

Protecting the Snow Leopard and Enhancing Farmer’s Livelihoods

Snow leopards that prey on poor farmers’ livestock pose a twofold problem: they endanger farmers’ precarious mountain livelihoods as well as the survival of the snow leopard as a unique species since farmers engage in retaliatory killings. Project Snow Leopard (PSL), a recent pilot initiative in Baltistan, involves a partnership between local farmers and private enterprise in the form of an insurance scheme combined with ecotourism activities. Farmers jointly finance the insurance scheme through the payment of premiums per head of livestock they own, while the remaining funds are provided by profits from trekking expeditions focusing on the snow leopard. The insurance scheme is jointly managed by a village management committee and PSL staff. The scheme is structured in such a way that villagers monitor each other and have incentives to avoid cheating the system.


Tracks of the Snow Leopard

The Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia) is one of the most elusive of cats and makes it home in the rugged ranges of South Asia and Central Asia. In the mountains of Baltistan in northern Pakistan, Shafqat Hussain has come up with innovative win-win solution called Project Snow Leopard to save the animal in its natural habitat by insuring the livestock it preys on. In 2006 Hussain received Rolex award for Enterprise for his work. He spoke to Asian Geographic about what it means to study this magnificent creature.


Snow Leopards Corral Improvements

Livestock depredation is one of the key sources of snow leopard mortality across much of its range. Many corrals made to protect the cattle in snow leopard habitat do not have proper roofs and have gaps in the walls allowing a snow leopard to easily climb in. One style of structure that has proved effective has at least 2.4m high stone walls and an open roof covered by 8X8 cm mesh wire supported with wooden poles every 50 cm. The structure will have no windows, or if it does they will be covered in mesh wire or have tight fitting bars. There will be only a single closely fitting wooden door that can be securely looked at night. Communal corral may be larger and accommodate as many as 700 sheep and goats.

The Internation Journal of Conservation ORYX

Snow Leopards in Pakistan, Conflicts with local farmers

Between 1998 and 2001 Shafqat Hussain carried out surveys in four areas in the Baltistan district of the Northern Areas of Pakistan to estimate the population of the snow leopard and to examine the threats to its future conservation. He estimate that a total of 36–50 snow leopards are present in the areas surveyed. Based on the availability of suitable snow leopard habitat and of its prey species, he estimate that 90–120 snow leopards are potentially present in Baltistan and 300–420 throughout its range within Pakistan’s borders. Although this estimate is higher than extrapolations based on earlier surveys, the long-term future of the snow leopard is under threat. This is mainly due to retaliatory killings by farmers, and poaching for pelts and other body parts. Species-focused conservation policies, particularly those targeting ungulates for the promotion of trophy hunting, may constitute an additional threat to snow leopard conservation in the region. However, all forms of threats to the snow leopard in Baltistan appear to emanate from the relatively poor economic conditions of the local people.

Newspaper Cuttings