A foundation for the future: Building India’s first comprehensive model for snow leopard conservation

Kulbhushansingh Suryawanshi

Snow leopard Panthera uncia is a wide ranging species occurring across the high mountains of Asia. Snow leopards (and other wildlife) overlap with domestic livestock in this region, which is the main source of livelihood for local communities. Thus, conflict between pastoralists and snow leopard conservation remains one of the biggest threats to the survival of the species. We aim to establish the first-ever, comprehensive, landscape-wide system for reducing key threats to snow leopards in the trans-Himalayas. Specifically, these threats are a lack of awareness and human-wildlife conflict that lead to persecution and hunting/killing of snow leopards. The aim is to expand outreach and community conservation engagement across 7,000 sq km of key snow leopard habitat in Himachal Pradesh state, as informed by previous CLP projects. We will achieve this by creating a network of 30 local conservation champions who will be trained in the principles of community conservation (PARTNERS Principles). We will support this network in developing community conservation programs wherever there is a need. We will also create awareness for conservation by working with 50 schools across this landscape. This effort will be articulated as a landscape-level conservation plan to be incorporated into national and international level policy documents, such as the Project Snow Leopard and the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program.

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