Panthera is currently leading or supporting conservation activities in five of the 12 snow leopard range countries across Asia, with the goal of expanding to all 12 snow leopard range states in the future. Program highlights are listed below.
China contains more than 50% of snow leopard range and is thought to be home to at least 50% of the world’s remaining wild snow leopards. Since 2009 Panthera has partnered with Shan Shui, a prominent national conservation NGO, and the Snow Leopard Trust to undertake research and community-based conservation activities in China. This work is focused on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai Province, but has expanded to Sichuan and the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
Panthera also partners with the Wildlife Conservation Society and WCS-China on a conservation project on snow leopards in the Changtang area of the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China. This project is identifying the distribution of snow leopards and high-conflict areas and designing appropriate conservation actions to protect snow leopards and their habitat. Local authorities and communities have been key partners to ensure the effectiveness of this conservation initiative.
In the Trans-Himalayan region of Ladakh, India, retaliatory killing of snow leopards by communities whose livestock are depredated is all too common. The Snow Leopard Conservancy – India Trust (SLC-IT), a local grass-roots NGO and affiliate organization of Panthera, has had remarkable success in changing human attitudes and stemming retribution against snow leopards through a mix of conservation education, improving economic livelihoods, and reducing losses of livestock by building predator-proof corrals.
Panthera’s partnership with SLC-IT is allowing the expansion of these successful programs to additional sites in Ladakh and potentially across the Indian Himalaya.
Much of the conflict with, and poaching of, snow leopards and their prey stems from lack of access by local communities to their natural resources. When local communities are allowed and equipped to manage their own resources, they become empowered and motivated to conserve them. In the case of the snow leopard’s mountain ungulate prey, such as the ibex, the prospect of sustainably using the prey through trophy or subsistence hunting provides an added incentive to conserve snow leopards.
Panthera also partnered with the Kyrgyz Customs Service and Working Dogs for Conservation to train and deploy wildlife detection dogs at border posts between the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan known for illegal wildlife smuggling.