Snow leopard Conservation
Snow leopard is a large cat; indigenous to the mountainous range of South and Central Asia. They are carnivores and aggressively hunt their prey like any other kinds of cats and also happen to be shrewd feeders, eating whatever they may find. They are danger to the domestic livestock and Carrion and can kill the animals four times of their weight. In fact, even horse or camel is not safe when attached by this large cat.
Unfortunately, this beautiful, black spotted, silver-grey snow leopard is believed to be the on the brink of extinction by the (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. For until the end of 2003, fewer than 2500 Leopards could reproduce, out of estimated 4,080,590 adults. They are found in the northern range at the height of 3,000 to 4,500 meters above from sea level. However they may also be found in the lower regions. It’s rapidly declining population once ruled the mountains and valleys of Northern Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Tibet up to southern borders of Siberia.
National Geographic Documentary: The Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard Trust
Snow Leopards Conservation Programs
It is so disheartening to see that this wonderful creature is endangered and its population is in rapid decline. And it would be difficult to forgo this specie going extinct in few decades; this big cat has been ruling the mountains and valleys of Northern Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Tibet up to southern borders of Siberia.
Agencies Working for Protection of Snow Leopards
However, numerous agencies are working for the conservation of the snow leopard: of those Snow leopards Trust, the Snow Leopard Conservancy are believed to be pioneers. Snow Leopards Trust is oldest of such organization working for the protection of Snow Leopards. It is non-profit and is based in Seattle, Washington. It works to increase awareness at the community level, performs scientific research programs, and more importantly fosters collaboration of experts of Leopard at the global level. This organization not only works side by side with other such organizations, but actively works to enhance funds through charity programs, selling products on its designed websites. It is supported by various Zoo managements all around the world.
Community-based Conservation Programs
As obvious it is that governments alone are not sufficient to guard this specie, therefore, collaboration at the community should be undertaken. The organization emphasize on the countries and region where this cat is found in abundance, and go on to work with them after understanding their needs and issue when it comes to conserve snow leopards. The organizations talk about meeting four objectives that should be fulfilled in collaboration with designed communities.
- Involving and taking help from local communities in protection of snow leopards and their habitation
- It is realized that quality of life of local members of the respective communities should be improved
- More important is it for organizations to develop such programs that eventually become self sufficient in the long run and hence do not require funds from donor agencies, etc.
- Monitoring programs should also be devised so as to assess performance of results
'Project Snow Leopard' in Pakistan
Project Snow Leopard was initiated and developed by Shafqat Hussain in 2004, in Baltiistan. It is one among many projects, underway to save this gifted species. Furthermore, the Project works under the umbrella of Baltistan Wildlife Conservation & Development Organization. Project’s community based collaborative program focuses on to improve environmental education; communities based monitoring, improved live stock guarding and live stock insurance programs. In order to compensate farmers of lost of livestock due to predation by Snow Leopard - Shafqat Hussain has developed an Insurance scheme. He has gone out of the way telling the farmers of the value of the Snow Leopard and why this rare creature must be saved. Baltistanis are very poor people, their livelihood mainly depends upon the livestock, therefore ‘Insurance scheme’ would best avail them to cover the losses of their livelihood and let the Snow Leopard roam freely.
Shafqat Hussain: Founder of Pakistan's Project Snow Leopard
Thus far groups and some national governments, donors and nonprofit organizations around the world recently came together on an occasion of 10th International Snow Leopard Conference that took place in Beijing. It was decided to speed up the research, community and educational programs in snow leopard regions; aimed to understand the cat’s needs, as well as the needs of the farmers and herder communities affecting snow leopards’ lives and habitat.
In this regard numerous projects are underway to save this amazing animal from complete extinction. The main reason of its declining population is the hunt by Local farmers who do it to save their livestock from being prey to Leopards. Farmers tell Representatives of the Snow Leopard Conservation Projects, that they do it out of compulsion, and that they have no other alternative to save their livestock from this wild cat. The government and the community need to take effective steps for the conservation of Snow Leopard. Therefore it is imperative that governments all around the world should come to the forefront for the protection and conservation of this wonderful specie.
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