Community-Based Management and Conservation Models - Snow Leopards

Geographical location:

Asia/Pacific > Southern Asia > Pakistan

Summary

The snow leopard is endangered throughout its 12 range states in Asia. The main reasons for this are grazier activities, degradation and fragmentation of its habitat. Although legal protection is afforded to snow leopards in several countries, its populations are in decline. Pakistan is one of the most important range countries for the snow leopard where legal protection exists. However, the position of the snow leopard in Pakistan is just as precarious as it is in other countries, which indicates that more practical and target-oriented actions are required. Experience has shown that the snow leopard can be protected provided graziers are motivated to cooperate. This project proposes to identify various mountain ranges with snow leopards and establish conservation models for replication within and outside Pakistan.

Background

The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is a charismatic species of mountain ecosystems. Because of its beautiful fur and predatory nature, it is hunted in large numbers by both graziers and local communities. This fact, combined with fragmentation in its natural range, has reduced snow leopard populations to the point of approaching extinction throughout its range states, including Pakistan. Although there have been many proposals and plans to protect snow leopards, in particular from graziers, there is as yet no working model and the conflict continues. WWF-Pakistan has been working with grazier communities for the conservation of various wildlife species for some time. This association has revealed that graziers can be motivated to help protect snow leopards, provided they are helped to overcome the current incidences of disease and mortality in their livestock. Cooperation will also provide assistance in their pasture development. This project proposes to develop conservation models in the Karakoram mountain and the Hindukush, involving local grazier communities for the beneficial co-existence of livestock and snow leopard. Since snow leopard habitat in the different mountain ranges covers a variety of human cultures, the experience gained will be of help to other range states in protecting leopards. Moreover, the project will also help the rural poor to enhance and sustain their income sources from their traditional practices. Other beneficiaries will be several other species dependent on the same habitat.

Objectives

1. Identify key areas for snow leopard conservation in the Northern Areas and North-west Frontier Province of Pakistan, with emphasis on existing and proposed parks, reserves and conservation areas;
2. Develop replicable, pilot program activities which encourage herders to protect snow leopards and their major prey species in exchange for mutually-identified economic services and incentives which fulfill designated criteria;
3. Educate herders on the importance of preserving snow leopards and the benefits associated with environmental and wildlife conservation;
4. Train stakeholders on such topics as protected area buffer-zone management, rangeland assessment and improvement, snow leopard and prey population surveys, eco-tourism planning and income-generation, and transboundary management; and
5. Further assist park authorities by providing staff with support and field equipment, such as clothing and camping gear, critical to promoting more effective park management.

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