An independent review has confirmed the effectiveness of our Livestock Vaccination Program in Pakistan. Livestock mortality rates have been lowered, community well-being has improved and attitudes towards snow leopards are getting more positive.
In August 2013, an independent expert, Mr. Hafeez Buzdar, completed a thorough on-the-ground review of the “Snow Leopard Friendly Livestock Vaccination Program”, run jointly by the Snow Leopard Trust and our partner in Pakistan, the Snow Leopard Foundation.
Improved Well-Being, Improved Attitudes
The review found that the vaccination program has successfully reduced disease-related mortality among livestock by 50% and improved community well-being. Herd sizes have been reduced and there has been no increase in land use for grazing; attitudes towards snow leopards are more and more positive. The review concludes that the vaccination program has made a significant contribution to snow leopard conservation in program villages.
The program, which is being implemented in twelve villages in Chitral, Northern Pakistan, aims to protect habitat, enhance community tolerance towards wildlife, and improve community livelihoods by protecting livestock against disease and creating participatory, community-based veterinary services. Its overall conservation strategy is premised on the institutional, technical, and financial aspects of sustainability and relies on strong local organization, trained locals in animal health and husbandry practices, and a revolving vaccination community fund. The review of the Snow Leopard Friendly Animal Husbandry and Vaccination Program reported on livestock health and productivity as well as herder’s income and attitude change towards snow leopard depredation.
A total of 261 households were selected from the eleven villages of the program area. Review data was finalized and shared with the Snow Leopard Trust in September. The review has been a thoroughly positive experience and Dr. Muhammad Ali Nawaz, Country Program Director for SLT, says “it provided essential insights into the vaccination program from a social science perspective and provides us with clear recommendations for how to improve it.”
Room for Improvement
Mr. Buzdar’s review also found areas where we can make the program stronger. The review helped identify several areas where a lack of capacity and training within the Snow Leopard Conservation Organizations (SLCOs) has created challenges. This lack of capacity has created little clear documentation of village-level co-financing and has also contributed to a lack of program awareness among the greater community.
Recommendations were provided in the review, such as using more than one individual as a contact person, and having more all-village meetings. Pakistan Country Director Ali Nawaz is excited to put those ideas into practice: “This evaluation has been extremely valuable and has allowed us to discuss ways to move forward. We will be able to add more time and resources towards capacity and relationship building with participating communities, and provide participants with a variety of skill-workshops; such as how to track and document finances, and how to create stronger governance. We are looking forward to improving this program and have it continue to benefit the lives of snow leopards and the community.“