Yak herders stand up to conserve Snow Leopards in WCP
Yak herding community members engaged in a group work on conserving Snow Leopards
Until the recent past, the Yak herding communities living within the central ranges of the Wangchuck Centennial Park (WCP) were known for their agriculture, hospitality and their unique highland culture.
However, with the establishment of a 30-member Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia) Conservation Committee from among the community members, they are now climate-smart leaders who will determine conservation through citizen science, livestock management, education and awareness and eco-tourism.
The park, in its bid to save this endangered species, has established the first-ever community–based Snow leopard Conservation Community in its Central Range. This initiative will also bring about community-based climate change adaptation measures centered on snow leopard conservation in the alpine areas of WCP.
Through a two-day training, the park highlighted focus on understanding the significance of conserving Snow Leopards. It provided the highlanders measures that could be implemented to reduce Snow Leopard-human conflicts.
The training also identified the threats the species experiences and the role that highlanders could play in partnership with the Park to mitigate these problems.
An effective community-based information sharing network has also been established that will help the Park garner support to collect vital information on poaching, illegal wildlife trade and to identify poaching hotspots.
Of recently, WCP has also been promoting biomass-based cooking stoves among the yak herders to avoid cutting down scarce Rhododendron and other alpine shrubs for fuel wood.
In the next two years WWF will support the park in replicating similar measures in the Western Range of the Park. The park will also conduct habitat preference study, inter-specific interactions between snow leopards and wolves, livestock and blue sheep and threats to snow leopards.
All these initiatives will be contributing to the larger goal of the National Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (NSLEP) which identifies engaging local communities and reducing Human-Wildlife Conflict, managing habitat and preys, strengthening capacity of national and local institutions and trans-boundary management and enforcement.