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



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.

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.


Brad Rutherford
Executive Director
Snow Leopard Trust / 206-632-2421

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