Testing snow leopard human-wildlife conflict prevention measures in Tajikistan

Qobiljon Shokirov

Human wildlife conflict (HWC) poses a significant threat to snow leopards and human livelihoods in the Pamir Mountains, Tajikistan. In particular, mass livestock killings by snow leopards inside corrals occur regularly, and can represent a major loss of resources and wealth in the typically impoverished communities. Such conflict often results in retaliatory killing of snow leopards, after which herders may subsequently sell snow leopard parts on the black market to opportunistically recoup their losses. We propose to conduct a series of participatory workshops in four conflict-prone villages in the Bartang Valley to understand key issues contributing to the HWC cycle and stakeholder perceptions. Together with participants, we will design and test an agreed conservation intervention to reduce HWC rates, for example by predator proofing existing corrals or using predator deterrents. Our inclusive approach will facilitate the implementation of a rigorous experimental design to produce the strong inference that is typically missing in the evaluation of HWC intervention tools. This project will help develop low-cost, accessible and effective conservation tools to reduce human conflict with snow leopards in this region, which can be scaled to the broader region in the future and improve the communities’ understanding and capacity to adapt and respond to HWC.