Snow leopards and sustainability

Jonny’s recent presentation on his research at the 17th Student Conference on Conservation Science at the University of Cambridge, 22nd – 24th March.

 

Presentation abstract (summary)

Given the prevalence of poverty and pastoralism across the snow leopard’s range, this talk addresses the assumptions that more diverse and resilient livelihoods, and a decentralised conservation governance model, will improve attitudes to and reduce conflict with the species. It also tests these assumptions in relation to snow leopard conservation. Using systematic sampling, a quantitative questionnaire was administered to 705 households at two sites in Nepal: Sagarmatha National Park, with a centralised governance model; and Annapurna Conservation Area, with a decentralised one. Seventy qualitative interviews were also collected for cross-methods triangulation. Regression models were the main form of analysis.

Attitudes to snow leopards were best predicted by attitudes to snow leopard conservation and numbers of livestock; with attitudes to snow leopard conservation, it was attitudes to snow leopards and livelihoods. For conflict with snow leopards and with snow leopard conservation, the number of livestock lost to all forms of mortality, and not just snow leopards, was the foremost predictor. The correlation between attitudes to snow leopards and attitudes to snow leopard conservation demonstrates that the way conservation is pursued and perceived needs consideration. Nevertheless, livelihoods predicted attitudes more than governance. The prediction of conflict by livestock lost – rather than owned – illustrates the significance of husbandry factors for conservation.

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Marshyangdi river valley, Annapurna

Yunkar Gompa in the NarPhu valley

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