Land of Snow Leopard

Geographical location:

Europe/Middle-East > North Asia/Mongolia > Mongolia

Summary

The vision for this project is the long-term survival and conservation of the globally endangered and charismatic snow leopard (Uncia uncia) in its home range in the Bumbat and Jargalant Khairkhan mountains and Tsagaan Gol Area within the Altai Sayan ecoregion in Western Mongolia.

The project aims to tackle the threats facing the snow leopard and its habitat through rural development, education for sustainable development, and control of illegal wildlife trade and mining in the area.

Background

The proposed project site is considered one of the core habitats for the smaller and isolated population of snow leopards. In 2003, 28 individual animals were spotted in Jargalant Khairkhan Mountain alone. Analysis of the population density for the area suggests there are 3 individual animals per 100km2 range. The habitat supports abundant numbers of mountain ungulates, the snow leopard’s preferred prey.

However, the site is increasingly threatened by habitat fragmentation due to competition from livestock herds, retaliation killings for livestock raids, and lack of awareness and support by local people for the conservation of the snow leopard, its prey and habitat (Evans et al 2001).

Destructive patterns of natural resource use are at an alarming rate in the area. Increasing herd sizes, especially of goats for cashmere production is leading to overgrazing in some areas, at a rate which is not sustainable. Latest statistics on herd-size from 4 soums (793 households) in the proposed project area shows 228,209 livestock year-round competing for the pasture and water sources with wildlife. Nearly all of the winter and summer camp sites of the herders overlap with the snow leopard’s historic habitat range. With more livestock herds, more wildlife habitats are lost due to intrusion by herders. This aggrevates the problem and causes even greater challenge when solutions are delayed.

The project proposal is a collaborative effort by WWF Mongolia and WWF Sweden and follows a 3 year project on rural development and education for sustainable development.

WWF Mongolia’s conservation activities have been associated closely with WWF Sweden throughout its presence in Mongolia since 1995. The funding support from WWF Sweden in the past has enabled WWF Mongolia to address emerging issues of toxicants and respond effectively to pressing issues of mining. The support from WWF Sweden has been fundamental in addressing the funding gap and shortages encountered during critical time periods for WWF Mongolia’s conservation activities.

Objectives

1. Rural Development
- Strengthen institutional capacity on rangeland management for herder groups to address effectively biodiversity conservation needs.
- Increase livelihoods for herder groups by improving their cooperative marketing provision and business skills.
- Create enabling conditions nationwide for sustainable rangeland management.

2. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
- Apply the ESD national curriculum at local levels and disseminate and communicate lessons’ learned at national level.
- Link the ESD and rural development components within the target areas
- Strengthen WWF Mongolia technical capacity on ESD.

3. Illegal wildlife trade related objectives
- Support mobile anti-poaching activities in the project area.
- Conduct public awareness activities on law enforcement regarding snow leopard and its prey species.

4. Mining and toxic related objectives
- Conduct an assessment of mining activities in the selected area of Altai-Sayan Ecoregion to determine whether they comply with the law and establish a public database.
- Build capacity of local community organisations to monitor mining activities in their territory and support their work through funding of jointly planned activities.
- Conduct training for newly elected local parliament members at soum and aimag level.

Solution

The success of the project will be measured in terms of conservation measures and initiatives linking conservation with livelihood introduced at the project site.

Indicators include:

- The number of community members actively engaged in the conservation work and volunteer ranger activities.
- The locally adapted school curriculum and educational activities developed around the important issues of saving snow leopards and the ESD concept.
- Production of training programmes and teacher aid materials and the extent to which issues such as pasture management and business development skills are integrated into the school curriculum and adult education programmes.
- The numbers of herder groups linked to markets.
- The frequency and quality of capacity improvement training and training programmes on simple accounting, book keeping and profit projection, marketing and fundraising skills.

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