Pakistan, specifically the mountainous northern provinces, supports a large population of snow leopards; however, few conservation projects for the cat have been undertaken here. Panthera, the Snow Leopard Trust (SLT) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) are collaborating on snow leopard surveys and conservation actions in Gilgit-Baltistan Province (formerly the Northern Areas). SLT has a long-standing program in Pakistan, operating primarily in the Chitral district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. WCS is active in the Northern Areas, but focuses primarily on community-based conservation of mountain ungulates (often snow leopard prey species). Panthera joins these organizations to bring their diverse expertise to bear on snow leopard conservation in this key portion of snow leopard range, which borders India, China and Tajikistan. A joint office was established in Gilgit (capital of Gilgit-Baltistan) in late 2009. Thus far, range surveys and threat assessments have been initiated and will be expanded in the coming months.
Community-based conservation projects were launched in two sites in 2010 following a success model that the SLT employs in the Chitral area. Herders here live a fragile existence and losses of livestock to large predators compel them to kill snow leopards in retribution. Through extensive village interviews we have determined that disease may be a much more serious source of livestock losses than big predators. Hence, by assisting villages establish a community-managed vaccination program and greatly reducing that source of economic loss, people are much more tolerant of the few sheep or goats that snow leopard may take. Where vaccination programs are not an adequate answer, we are also exploring implementation of livestock insurance schemes, also village-managed, to reduce impacts on local people and bring greater harmony between villagers and snow leopards.
Dr. Tom McCarthy, Executive Director of Panthera’s Snow Leopard Program, and Zara McDonald, Executive Director of Felidae Conservation Fund, work together to fix this snow leopard with a tracking collar.
- Surveys of snow leopards and prey species
- Assessment of snow leopard threats
- Establishment of community-based conservation initiatives
- Monitoring of snow leopard populations over time to assess conservation progress
Learn more about Panthera's Snow Leopard Conservation projects in: