This project will support the Snow Leopard Conservancy’s (SLC) pioneering work in community-based conservation across this threatened species’ range, employing innovative approaches to human-wildlife coexistence, empowering Indigenous People and reviving Traditional Knowledge with the Snow Leopards as a sacred totem species, and facilitating local mountain communities with sustainable, resilient and diversified livelihoods.
Enigmatic and elusive apex predators, snow leopards indicate the health and sustainability of Asia’s high mountain ecosystems. These vital biodiversity and biocultural rich ecosystems offer invaluable natural resources, including fresh water for one-third of the world’s population living in South and East Asia. Agro-pastoralist communities also depend on this landscape and their livestock: however, human-wildlife conflict arises from snow leopards depredating upon herder’s valued livestock, often resulting in retaliatory killings of this majestic cat. SLC aims to prevent root causes of human-wildlife conflict and poaching, along with improving the wellbeing of both snow leopards and local people. SLC has developed innovative techniques such as predator-proofing livestock corrals and the use of FoxLights© as an electronic deterrent. The project supports the development of Artificially Intelligent camera traps with the capability of identifying snow leopards, alerting herders and activating automated mitigation technique, including sound deterrents.
Working with local cultural associations in Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, and two regions of Russia, SLC facilitated formation of the Land of the Snow Leopard Network (LOSL). The LOSL Network is rooted in Indigenous understanding of the sacredness, cultural heritage, and ecological significance of the Snow Leopard. SLC seeks to ensure the voices of Indigenous communities are heard, for they serve as frontline protectors of the snow leopard and its ecosystem. Preservation of traditional cultural practices and transferring the rich knowledge to younger generations is central toward ensuring long-term ecosystem sustainability. LOSL now has over 100 members, comprised of shamans, sacred site guardians, educators, scientists, revered elders, and conservationists working together. LOSL’s leaders have implement their own community-based conservation and education programs, using a holistic approach blending traditional and western science to mitigate human-wildlife conflict with snow leopards.
Collaborating range country organizations, SLC works closely with mountain communities using a highly participatory process to develop diversified and sustainable livelihoods, especially targeting women-led organizations and enterprises. The project will bring income-generating solutions that protect and incentivize the view of snow leopards as a valued biological asset. The connection between human health, animal health and ecosystem health has never been more evident than with this pandemic, highlighting the importance of embracing a One Health component to mountain community resiliency to future pandemics and the effects of climate change.
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