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Saving Snow Leopards

In Pakistan, where there are between 200 and 400 wild snow leopards, a project involving local communities is reducing the number of snow leopard killings. Snow leopards are predators and every so often they kill a goat or sheep belonging to a farmer.  In retaliation, sometimes farmers will kill the endangered snow leopards.

Project Snow Leopard in Pakistan compensates local farmers for their livestock losses due to snow leopard predation, if the farmers agree not to kill snow leopards. The project was begun in 1999, and is funded by local ecotourism provided by Shafqat Hussain, and two granters; the Royal Geographical Society and the Snow Leopard Conservancy. The success of the project depends upon local community involvement. Besides receiving compensation for their lost animals, farmers also have been taught how to operate remote cameras to monitor snow leopard movements. The conservation project has expanded to ten villages.

If the snow leopard population is wiped out, the ecological balance of the areas where they live would be disrupted. Snow leopards naturally keep populations of wild goats down. In the absence of snow leopards, wild goats could strip the habitats of vegetation. Denudation of pastures leaves less for domestic livestock, and contributes to soil erosion which further decreases plant life.

Other things which cause local people to kill snow leopards are the illegal trade in pelts, and body parts used for traditional Chinese medicine. Additionally, a negative perception of snow leopards culturally has caused indiscriminate killing.

Snow leopards eat Ibex (wild goat) wild sheep, and pika, hare, rodents, and marmots. They also eat plant material during mating season. Educating the local population is a way of reducing false beliefs which lead to aggression against the cats. Another practical measure has been reinforcing livestock corrals to make them much more difficult for snow leopards to breach, so livestock killings are reduced.

Mr. Hussain said that with the combined efforts being undertaken in Pakistan, he expects to see a slight increase in the number of wild snow leopards there when the next biological survey is taken. Snow leopards are not easy to count, as they live at altitudes of 8,000-20,000 feet in summer, and are solitary. Worldwide, they are endangered with a population estimate of 3,000 to 7,500.

Image Credit: Gunnar Ries

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131 comments

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11:22AM PDT on Mar 26, 2013

goddess bless all who save animals

2:44AM PDT on Oct 11, 2012

Saving Snow Leopard is responsibility of us.God Bless Snow Leopard from extinction.

4:46PM PDT on Sep 19, 2012

Niceeeeee lovely animals.

8:54PM PDT on Aug 4, 2012

Thank you for the amazing video- oh that tail! I love that cat's tail!

7:43AM PDT on Aug 2, 2012

Glad these beautiful animals are being saved!

7:38AM PDT on Aug 2, 2012

i watched almost all and my morning is better than it's been in awhile. Thank you for the vidios.

8:51PM PDT on Jul 16, 2012

I am really glad that there is Project snow leopard, to try to save these beautiful animals!

9:09AM PDT on Apr 18, 2012

thank you

4:09PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

I`m glad to see Project Snow Leopard has got the locals on side. Obviously the villagers are being level headed and pragmatic in this matter, without exercising any prejudice. Perhaps we could also find middle ground with US ranchers in the Rocky Mountains in their dealings with wolves and mountain lions ?

10:23AM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

They are stunningly gorgeous!!

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