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Snow Leopard Trust Updates


Protecting Prey to Protect the Predators

As livestock numbers in northern India grow, some of the snow leopard’s main prey species populations are shrinking fast. The cats – and other predators such as wolves – are increasingly forced to predate on domestic animals instead. 

snow leopard in the snow

looking for natural prey

In the remote, high altitude valleys of Jammu and Kashmir, where the estimated average annual family income is less than $500, many herders rely on their livestock for survival. They suffer real financial hardship when valuable livestock are lost to snow leopard depredation, and sometimes hunt snow leopards in retaliation.

Stopping the vicious circle – grazing-free reserves

a blue sheep in the snow

blue sheep are a favorite prey species for snow leopards

To stop the circle of conflict, the Snow Leopard Trust works with villages to find solutions – one of which is establishing grazing-free reserves. The idea behind the grazing-free reserves is simple: Without competition from livestock, wild sheep, gazelles and goats can flourish – giving snow leopards and other predators more natural prey. With more of the wild prey they prefer, they stay away from livestock. Recent scientific findings have revealed that this may not necessarily lead to less livestock predation. But it might support larger snow leopard populations*.

This simple concept works. In the oldest and largest reserve, blue sheep—an important snow leopards prey species—have increased four-fold.

Local people make the decisions

Grazing-free reserves have been successful in large part because local people make the decisions.  A committee from the target villages decides on land that can be set aside to form a grazing-free reserve. The Snow Leopard Trust compensates the villages with mutually agreed-upon annual fees for herders’ use of alternate pastures, and provides stipends for reserve guards to prevent grazing violations.

Each year, our local team meets with grazing-free reserve committees and guards to check for grazing violations, and conducts wildlife surveys inside the grazing-free reserves to monitor recovery of wild prey populations and natural habitat.

*this post has been edited in April 2013 to reflect new scientific facts that have come to light

Our Sock Competition is Underway!

Calling all creative knitters!

The Snow Leopard Trust is having a sock pattern contest that starts July 20th, and we want to see your socks! We are looking for the perfect sock pattern to use with the camel wool yarn we make through Snow Leopard Enterprises. We are offering an awesome prize package to the very best submission, and to the runner-up!

The rules:

The Perks:

  • You could be credited with the creation of the Snow Leopard Trust’s sock pattern forever
  • You could win an awesome prize package that includes the Peace Fibers book, Theo Chocolates 6 bar gift set, 4 free skeins of your favorite color yarn, and so much more! (There is a prize package for the runner-up as well, for more details click here.)

Simply send your submission to the address below, and we’ll notify you when we choose our winner in early October. Visit our yarn shop to get started!

Snow Leopard Trust
Attn: Gina Robertson
4649 Sunnyside Ave. N Suite 325
Seattle, WA 98103

Photos of Wild Snow Leopard Cubs!

The photos and video from Anu and Lasya’s den sites are in! We have never before encountered wild snow leopard cubs, and we are thrilled to share our experience with you. You can check out our YouTube channel to see live footage of the den visits!

Additional details on the event can be found here.

This long-term snow leopard study in Mongolia’s South Gobi is a joint project with Snow Leopard Trust, Snow Leopard Conservation Fund, and Panthera, and is in cooperation with the Mongolia Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism and the Mongolia Academy of Sciences.

Lasya's Den Site and Two Cubs


Lasya's Two Cubs are Just Weeks Old

A Close-Up of One of Lasya's Tiny Cubs

Anu's Den was Partially Manmade

Anu's Tiny Cub

M9 Is All Grown Up

We are excited to report that M9 dispersed from his mother Khashaa in mid-April!

The only other snow leopard we have known during dispersal was Zaraa, who left her mother Tenger in February of last year. A few weeks after M9 went off on his own, field researcher Orjan located his first big kill, a 5 year old female ibex. He ate for six days, and since that time has been seen on two additional kill sites. The young snow leopard is doing great! (more…)

No ‘Littles’ in the Gobi

Orjan Johansson is our snow leopard collaring expert currently living at the research base camp in the South Gobi of Mongolia. Life is harsh in mountain ranges where snow leopards are found, and Orjan shares his experience:

As we were eating breakfast a couple of days ago it struck me that there are no ‘littles’ here. There is never “a little wind” or “a little hot”. Two days before this realization, it was an exceptionally hot day with a blazing sun. I was wearing a light shirt and still sweated heavily. But the day after, it was so cold that I had to dig out the long-johns and woolen cap again. This morning the wind blew so hard that the ger itself moved, and motor-biking would involve a substantial risk if caught in a crosswind.

For the past 50 days, I have had company more or less 24/7. The visitors have been great, but it is a little tiring to constantly have people that are dependent on me in camp. But the alternative is to be alone here, which I have been for the last three days after the visitors departed. Alone in the Gobi means living without another human being in sight. So I’m not ‘a little alone’. I’m totally alone.

Since my brother installed the microprocessors, our trap surveillance system has worked perfect! That is, it worked perfect until a few hours after my assistant and Charu left camp, then it broke down… With excellent help from my brother I have isolated the problem, a small amplifier broke. It is a common part found in most stores that sell electronic supplies and it costs a couple of dollars. Unfortunately, there are simply no electronic stores here. So I must again get up every third hour and climb the mountain to manually listen to the trap transmitters. I would love to be just ‘a little tired’ and ‘a little luckier’.