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Snow Leopard Shenanigans in the Gobi

A family of wild snow leopards gets up to funny business in front of a remote-sensor research camera in Mongolia’s Nemegt mountains.

Snow leopard researchers test remote cam hoping for cat pics...

Mongolian Snow Leopard Trust researchers test remote cam hoping for cat pics…

 

All kinds of snow leopard shenanigans went down in front of this camera in Mongolia!

And just a few days later, they wold get what they had hoped for!

 

jumping? dancing? playing? wild #snowleopard cubs put on a show for the cam!

jumping? dancing? playing? All kinds of snow leopard shenanigans!

 

family fun!

family fun!

 

tails up!

tails up!

 

not sure what's going on with these young snow leopards...

not sure what’s going on with these young snow leopards…

 

even the wildest cats get exhausted eventually

but even the wildest cats get exhausted eventually

 

never mind us, we're just rolling around in the grass

never mind us, we’re just rolling around in the grass

 

alright, that's it, done! let's all just walk away in a different direction

alright, that’s it, done! let’s all just walk away in a different direction

 

 

 

 

Indian Snow Leopard Ally is Disney Conservation Hero

Press release

Devender Singh Chauhan Receives Prestigious Award from Disney Conservation Fund

Seattle WA / Kaza, Himachal Pradesh, India, November 12, 2014 – The Snow Leopard Trust and Nature Conservation Foundation India are thrilled to announce that Devender Singh Chauhan, Range Forest Officer in the Spiti region of Himachal Pradesh state, India, has been honored with a Disney Conservation Hero Award from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF). The award recognizes local citizens for their tireless efforts to save wildlife, protect habitats and educate communities.


Working as the Range Forest Officer for Spiti at the Himachal Pradesh Forest Department, Mr. Chauhan is the government official in charge of managing ecological resources in the Spiti area, an important snow leopard habitat. In this role, he has emerged as a keen and innovative wildlife enthusiast and an exemplary snow leopard conservation champion.

Devender Singh Chauhan in his element; raising awareness for endangered wildlife in his community

Devender Singh Chauhan in his element; raising awareness for endangered wildlife in his community

Mr. Chauhan was full of joy upon learning of his award: “This prestigious award is a great honor for me. It has boosted my morale to continue my long association with wildlife conservation with dedication.”

“This award is dedicated to all my friends working in the remote, rugged and fragile landscape of Trans-Himalaya in adverse conditions”, he added.

A respected leader in his community

Approaching both local communities and wildlife with great respect, Mr. Chauhan has been able to foster an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual trust between authorities, communities and conservation activists in Spiti – achieving notable successes for wildlife and the environment.

For example, several villagers approached Mr. Chauhan about the blue sheep and ibex that were raiding their crops and destroying an entire year’s earnings. Since both of those ungulates – key snow leopard prey species – are protected, the community looked to Mr. Chauhan to come up with a suitable intervention.

Spit's snow leopards have a brighter future thanks to Devender Singh Chauhan

Spit’s snow leopards have a brighter future thanks to Devender Singh Chauhan

The way he resolved the problem exemplifies his unique approach. First he talked with the villagers to find out when and where exactly these raids on crops were usually happening. This revealed that the raids mostly took place in the initial months of the agricultural cycle, during daylight hours and in fields that were relatively close to cliffs. Then, in response, Mr. Chauhan suggested local youth work as guard watchers at these locations and times. This simple solution had a huge impact, bringing down damage drastically while also providing youth with temporary employment.

Using the excellent relationships he has fostered in the region, Mr. Chauhan has also been instrumental in bringing together government agencies, conservation organizations and local communities in an effort to control Spiti’s growing feral dog population, which has recently emerged as a significant threat to snow leopards, wild prey, and domestic livestock.

His work helped initiate the first dog sterilization camp that has ever been held in Spiti. What was once a terrible and growing problem in which feral dogs were suffering, attacking livestock and wildlife, and reproducing rapidly, is now being reversed thanks to these concerted efforts.

DWCF Logo Mark 4CThe Snow Leopard Trust and Nature Conservation Foundation India nominated Mr. Chauhan for this award. The $1,500 award from DWCF will be used for much-needed equipment for his work.

The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund focuses on protecting wildlife and connecting kids and families with nature. Since 2004, Disney has honored more than 100 leaders around the world for their extraordinary conservation efforts.

For information on Disney’s commitment to conserve nature and a complete list of 2014 Conservation Hero Award recipients, visit www.disney.com/conservation.

 

 

About Nature Conservation Foundation

Leading the fight for the conservation of India’s unique wildlife heritage with innovative research and imaginative solutions, NCF India works in a range of wildlife habitats, from coral reefs and tropical rainforests to the high peaks of the Himalaya. Through their High Altitude program, they partner with the Snow Leopard Trust to protect this endangered cat’s fragile mountain ecosystem.

www.ncf-india.org

About the Snow Leopard Trust

The Snow Leopard Trust, based in Seattle, WA, is a world leader in conservation of the endangered snow leopard, conducting pioneering research and partnering with communities as well as authorities in snow leopard habitat to protect the cat.

www.snowleopard.org

Contact

Brad Rutherford
Executive Director
Snow Leopard Trust
brad@snowleopard.org / 206-632-2421

Research Camera Outtakes

The mountains of Central Asia may seem barren – but there’s A LOT of funny business going on along those steep mountain slopes! Check out some of the fun pictures our research cameras have captured over the last months!

We’ve watched some critters have dinner…

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… and become dinner themselves a bit later…

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Meanwhile, a bunny looks for answers from above…

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While cats, being cats (and the undisputed apex predator of these mountains), have some fun playing catch…

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Our remote-sensor research cameras, deployed deep in the snow leopard’s rugged mountain habitat, take a photo whenever they detect a passing animal through movement and body heat. They snap thousands of pictures of birds, marmots, sheep, occasional bears and even stray dogs – and, of course, the elusive snow leopard!

The snow leopard images allow us to estimate and monitor cat populations and figure out which areas are most crucial for their survival.

Ryan’s Run: Going to the Limit for Snow Leopards

We’re a dedicated bunch here at the Snow Leopard Trust. Our field researchers regularly brace blizzards, treacherous horse back rides and weeks of dried mutton in order to find out more about this elusive cat. Those of us working from the comforts of our Seattle office bravely make it through the city’s famous drizzle on our daily commute. But none of us has anything on Ryan Hill when it comes to going the extra mile for the cats! Or, in his case, the extra 250 kilometers. Through the ice-cold desert of Antarctica.


RyanRunningRyan Hill is an avid runner. The kind who probably considers a marathon to be a nice warmup. When he’s not running the most extreme races known to mankind, Ryan works for spirits company Edrington.

He first heard of the highly endangered snow leopard and the work of the Snow Leopard Trust when the Edrington Group, his employers acquired the brand, Snow Leopard Vodka – the world’s first ethical vodka. Donating 15% of its profits to conservation, Snow Leopard Vodka has raised more than $130,000 for these cats to date.

Upon learning about this fascinating cat, Ryan decided to use his passion – running – to raise even more awareness and funds for its conservation. Having signed up for The Last Desert (Antarctica), one of the toughest long-distance races in the world, he decided to set up a fundraising campaign for the snow leopard around his incredible challenge. His goal is to raise £25,000 (around $40,000) – and you can contribute! Just visit his campaign website to help!

Starting in Ushuaia, a town at the very southern tip of Argentina, Ryan and his co-competitors have boarded an expedition ship to sail across the Drake Passage earlier this week. Having reached Antarctica, these brave men and women have now begun their 250 km race across the icy continent! Temperatures on the course apparently reach as low as -20°C / -4°F, though we’ll have to wait for an update from Ryan to confirm…

Please visit www.run4snowleopard.com to learn more about Ryan’s crazy adventure and his passion for snow leopards!

Conservation Program Raises $1 Million for Snow Leopards

Press Release. Seattle, November 4, 2014.

Snow Leopard Enterprises creates a market for handicrafts made by herders who live in the endangered cat’s habitat. In return, the herders help save snow leopards. In the past 10 years, this program, which today helps protect 17% of Mongolia’s snow leopard habitat, has generated a total of $1 million in sales.


What once was a small handicrafts program with just a few women participating has just reached a major milestone! Founded in 1998 by two conservationists, Bayara Agvantseeren from Mongolia and Priscilla Allen from the USA, Snow Leopard Enterprises has grown into one of the most impactful conservation programs anywhere in the world.

In the last 10 years, this simple idea has generated a million dollars in total sales for snow leopard conservation – money that directly benefits endangered cats and poor communities alike.

Photos of Snow Leopard Enterprise participants can be downloaded here

Click here for research camera photos of wild snow leopards

a wild snow leopard in Tost, Mongolia, an area where Snow Leopard Enterprises helps protect the cats' habitat.

a wild snow leopard in Tost, Mongolia, an area where Snow Leopard Enterprises helps protect the cats’ habitat.

Many of the people who share the endangered snow leopard’s habitat in Central Asia depend on livestock for their livelihood. Often, they live on less than $2 a day. For these people, losing livestock to a predator like the snow leopard is a devastating blow. Too often, they see no other choice but to retaliate against the cat.

Conservationists intent on saving the elusive snow leopard are working with herder communities to break this vicious circle of poverty and conflict. One simple, but powerful idea has been particularly successful: Snow Leopard Enterprises.

In this unique program, the Snow Leopard Trust, a Seattle-based conservation organization, teams up with Mongolia’s Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation to provide poor herder women in snow leopard habitat with the training and equipment they need to make rugs, baby booties, felted cat toys and other handicrafts from the wool of their livestock.

community members working with Snow Leopard Enterprises

Community members in Tost spinning wool for Snow Leopard Enterprises products

The Snow Leopard Trust then buys the finished products from these women and markets them internationally under the label “Snow Leopard Enterprises”. The additional income they gain from the sale of these products helps hundreds of families improve their lives. In return, participating communities sign agreements to protect the snow leopards living in their area from poaching and retaliation killings. If no cats are hurt throughout a year, the communities receive an additional bonus.

A Difference Maker for Cats and People Alike

In these program communities, Snow Leopard Enterprises has changed the fortunes of both the cats and the people who live with them. “Today, our community conservation programs help protect more than 17% of Mongolia’s snow leopard habitat”, says Bayara Agvantsereen, the program’s co-founder, who heads the Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation. “Snow Leopard Enterprises is the centerpiece of our work in the area, our flagship program and our main point of contact for many families in the region.”

For the participating families, Snow Leopard Enterprises is making a huge difference, too. Many herders in rural areas of Mongolia sell their raw sheep, goat, and camel wool for pennies per pound. The average per capita income in the region is around $2 per day.

Families who participate in Snow Leopard Enterprises, on the other hand, boosted their regular income by an average of more than $150 last year by producing and selling handicrafts.

“This extra income is a tremendous incentive for these communities to protect snow leopards”, Bayara Agvantseeren says.

Transforming Communities

For Snow Leopard Trust Executive Director Brad Rutherford, the program’s transformative power is a key to its success. “Snow Leopard Enterprises is not an aid program, but a conservation and economic development initiative”, he says. “It changes lives and empowers local communities to become stewards of the ecosystem they live in.”

A Joint Effort

Thanks to the support of many partners and donors, Snow Leopard Enterprises has grown from a handful of communities to including over 1000 families in 3 countries. “Among the many amazing contributors, the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation is a partner that stands out to me”, Brad Rutherford says. “They have been there from the beginning and have supported the program generously every single year since then.”

“It is thanks to this kind of long-term partnership and support that we’ve been able to  establish Snow Leopard Enterprises in Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan as well”, he adds.

With an India program slated to launch in 2015, the Snow Leopard Enterprise story keeps evolving. “We hope our customer base will expand with us, so we can reach even more cats and communities in the future”, Brad Rutherford says.

rugs-mailing booties

Traditional felt rugs and colorful baby booties are among the products herder women make for Snow Leopard Enterprises

 

The Snow Leopard: Elusive and Endangered

There are as few as 3920 – 6390 snow leopards left in the wild — and due to their elusive nature, encounters are so rare that the cats are often referred to as “ghosts of the mountain.” The snow leopard has been listed as endangered by the IUCN since 1971. The cat is protected worldwide, but remains threatened by poaching and retaliation killings as well as a loss of suitable habitat.

Snow Leopard Trust

The Snow Leopard Trust, based in Seattle, WA, is a world leader in conservation of the endangered snow leopard, conducting pioneering research and partnering with communities as well as authorities in snow leopard habitat to protect the cat.

www.snowleopard.org

Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation

Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation is the Snow Leopard Trust’s partner organization based in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; working together on the conservation of the endangered snow leopard since 1998.

 

Acknowledgements

We owe thanks to so many people – too many to list here. Special acknowledgement goes out to the following for support of major program growth:

Cat Life Foundation
CGMK Foundation
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund
Edrington Group & Edrington Americas
Edrington Asia Travel Retail
Felburn Foundation
Regina Bauer Frankenberg Foundation
Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund
Moore Family Foundation
Mark and Vickie Fund of the Nysether Family Foundation
People’s Trust for Endangered Species
The Rufford Foundation
Snow Leopard Trust, UK
Snow Leopard Vodka
Turner Foundation
Whitley Fund for Nature
Woodland Park Zoo
Zoo Boise