Snow Leopard Enterprises is more than a conservation program – it’s the story of remarkable women taking their future into their own hands, empowering their families and communities and blazing a trail towards a sustainable future for people and wildlife. Meet some of the Snow Leopard Enterprises participants from the Kyrgyz village of Uch Koshkon.
A mother of four, Mrs. Kurmanalieva Jyparkul works as an educator at the local school. 10 years ago, she joined Snow Leopard Enterprises (SLE), the award-winning conservation program that sells empowers communities in Central Asia to help protect wildlife.
Participants earn extra income by selling handicrafts, and in exchange, they pledge to protect the endangered snow leopard and its prey in their area. Mrs. Kurmanalieva uses the money she makes through SLE to buy medication for her sick husband, a former ranger at nearby Sarychat Ertash nature reserve.
After undergoing training courses, she has mainly been producing donkey booties for babies – available for sale in our web shop. However, she has also used her newly acquired skills in felting, weaving and embroidery to make various items for herself and her family: booties, gloves, hats and chair mats with snow leopard paw prints.
While the Kurmanalievs can certainly use the income they make through SLE, the conservation spirit runs deep in this family as well.
The eldest son, Toktosunov Urmat, followed in his father’s footsteps and became a ranger. Recently, he was recognized for apprehending a group of poachers in the reserve with the first-ever Citizen Ranger Wildlife Protection Award, part of a new program to better reward ranger’s efforts.
After work, Urmat likes to help his mother make products for SLE. His younger sisters usually join them. One daughter, a 7th grader, has even learned needle-felting, making beautiful eyeglass cases that she sometimes gives as gifts to foreigners that visit their village.
Much like Mrs. Kurmanalieva and her family, Abdyldaeva Chynar appreciates both the financial and the conservation benefits of SLE. Working as a babysitter at the local boarding school, she’s supporting a family of eight – but the income from her job barely covers their expenses.
In SLE, she saw a chance to improve her situation by doing something she enjoys – making handicrafts – while also helping the endangered snow leopard, an animal she’s loved since she was a small girl.
With her husband’s help, Mrs. Abdyldaeva makes booties, beautiful felted camels, colorful glasses cases and embroidered square mats – and she’s eager to learn how to make additional products in the future.
“SLE is a great help to my family and many others in our village”, she says. “There are many unemployed women with children here, and thanks to this program, they can make an income and still take care of their kids.”
Mrs. Kudashova Turum’s six children have all grown up long ago – and yet, she is still taking care of them. The eldest villager in Uch Koshkon, the widowed Mrs. Kudashova makes rugs and chair pads for Snow Leopard Enterprises, using the money she earns to support her children and their families.
As a member of the local SLE conservation fund, she remains very involved in community matters – a source of pride for this active pensioner!
The Participants are Writing the Story
Snow Leopard Enterprise has been an incredible success in Uch Koshkon and beyond. It has generated almost $1 million in total sales, and helps protect habitats that could be home to hundreds of snow leopards.
We often talk about Snow Leopard Enterprises as our program, and we underline the importance of your support in making it work so amazingly well.
At its heart, however, this million-dollar conservation success story is being written the women of Uch Koshkon and more than 40 similar communities in Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan. We’re just gratefully retelling the tale these conservation champions are spinning!
If you’d like to support these women and many more, please have a look at some of the amazing products they make in our shop!