Our team in India’s Spiti Valley was treated to an extraordinary sighting of the elusive Ghost of the Mountain on a recent field visit. For Research Associate Ajay Bijoor, it was the first encounter with the cat he’s dedicated his life and career to. Read his account of an unforgettable day – and watch the amazing video footage the team managed to capture!
18 years ago, we established our first grazing-free village reserve for wild snow leopard prey in partnership with the community of Kibber, India. Today, the area’s population of bharal, a wild sheep that’s among the snow leopard’s preferred prey species, is about four times higher than it was before the reserve was set up. Nine more of these reserves have since been started elsewhere in India. It’s been an important conservation initiative, but also an educational experience.
Herders, farmers and wildlife rangers living in Asia’s mountainous snow leopard habitat are our most important partners in the fight against poaching and killing of these endangered cats.
It’s a privilege and an enormous responsibility to work for the conservation of the endangered snow leopard. We’re thankful to share this planet with such an amazing creature – and for your support!
The Snow Leopard Trust’s new book, ‘The PARTNERS Principles for Community-Based Conservation’, authored by Charudutt Mishra, is launched by President Atambayev of the Kyrgyz Republic. It’s a handbook for successfully engaging local communities in wildlife conservation.
A report by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC has found that hundreds of these endangered cats die at the hands of humans each year.
Researcher Saloni Bhatia has examined the role of religion on people’s attitudes toward snow leopards and wolves. She didn’t find significant differences between Muslims’ and Buddhists’ tolerance for these predators. Overall, the conservation impact of religion seems to be limited – but not insignificant.
Amarsaikhan is a herder in the Tost Mountains of Mongolia. Everyone here calls him Amara. He has spent his entire life living alongside the elusive snow leopard – not seeing the cat very often, but feeling its presence much more frequently than he’d have cared for. Every year, snow leopards killed several of his horses and fawns—an expense he and his community could hardly withstand. Amara not only feared these cats – “to be honest, I think I hated them”, he says. On several occasions, he attempted to kill snow leopards that had come near his camp. Luckily, he never succeeded.
Snow leopards are notoriously difficult to monitor, in part because they reside in remote areas with unfriendly terrain. But they aren’t the only ones who live there.
Ajay Bijoor, a project associate in our India team, has written a wonderful article about his experiences with the management of feral dogs in the Transhimalayan landscape of Spiti, India. We’re reposting it here with the kind permission of Ajay and Current Conservation magazine.