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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Fifty shades of yak

 And you thought they were just big hairy cows!

[There are] yaks [male yak], naks [female yak], cow-hybrids [cow x yak], cows and zopkyos [ox x nak]. Most of the households own livestock, primarily yaks and cow-hyrbids. Cow-hybrids are used for milk, and yaks and hybrids are used for transportation. Yaks and naks are also used for wool. Continue reading

Money money money

 

It’s a rich man’s world. At least it seems that way if snow leopards have eaten your livestock and your’re not getting compensated by those you think have all the money.

50% of the people like…[the park authority]…,50% of the people don’t like it. There is a lot of budget with…[them]…and the locals don’t see it being utilised well and therefore the many locals don’t like…[the park authority]. They perceive that the entrance fee goes to staff salaries. Re: the compensation scheme, people think it’s unnecessary to insure as the…[compensation]…is so small. [Nearby]…4 herders didn’t get any compensation from the insurance scheme so they became angry and the scheme is not working there. Continue reading

Trouble in paradise

The mixed blessings of new roads and increasing tourist numbers for Himalayan communities.

# Interview 1

There are bigger problems than snow leopard conservation. The…[park]…is being ruined by roads and pollution – tourism is the main livelihood and…[the park authority]…does nothing. Soon nobody will come to trek except the Israelis who want everything for free. Continue reading

Mixed signals

Snow leopards: it seems you either love ’em or hate ’em, or are maybe somewhere in-between. The quotes of the day…

# Interview 1

The locals are happy with the measures as they understand conservation now, its only the ban of killing the snow leopard they don’t understand as the animal is troubling local people a lot. The only conflict is the ‘no kill’ rule – why can’t they kill it? – their livelihood is derived from livestock which the leopard kills. What can they do? Why is…[the park authority]…protecting it? Punishment for killing snow leopard is 5 years in jail and 100,000 rupees [US$ 1,000] fine. Continue reading

Take their teeth out

The quote of the day from otherwise mind-numbing interview analysis.

Q. Should a population of blue sheep [a species of wild sheep] be translocated/moved to Sagartmatha National Park to reduce snow leopard predation on livestock? Continue reading

21st century conservation

Jonny suggests that studying the study’s research team can tell us a lot about conservation today.

Conservation has come a long way since 1903. Back then, a group of British statesmen and naturalists formed the world’s first international conservation organisation, calling it ‘The Society for the Preservation of the Wild Fauna of the Empire’. These be-whiskered Anglo-Saxon gentlemen, with their guns and safari suits, lived in a very different world to the one we inhabit today, albeit in the twilight of an era that was to be extinguished by the cataclysm of World War I. The safari suits, if not the guns, may have mostly gone since then but conservation has not. Over a century later, the microcosm that is our research team provides a window on a changed world. Continue reading

The voices of those who matter

Maurice shares the stories, concerns and anecdotes of those who live side by side with the snow leopard.

 

“I have opinions of my own – strong opinions – but I don’t always agree with them.”
― George H.W. Bush

Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has a story. Everyone has doubts. This makes all men equal. Even if the opinions are wrong, the stories rubbish and the doubts unnecessary. Men will still be equal in this regard. Some more equal than others but that is another story.

Continue reading

Oh deer, what can the matter be?

Jonny writes about the snow leopard’s preferred prey in Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park.

Snow leopards are big cats.  Weighing between 35kg/77lbs and 55kg/121lbs, and with an active lifestyle in a cold environment, they need to eat a lot of food to keep them going and keep them warm.  Like all large felines, they tend to catch a big prey animal – like a wild sheep or goat – every couple of days if it’s available, and will often stay near the kill until it’s finished.  A snow leopard killing three sheep-sized animals every two weeks could therefore get through around 75 in a year.  That’s a lot of lamb chops. Continue reading

The Killing Fields of the Himalaya

Maurice recounts the worrying level of predation by snow leopards in SNP 

We look at each other and shake our heads.

It is an outrageous claim…but what if its true? That would be worrying to say the least.

Rinzin and I are sat in the home of the Chairman of the Buffer Zone User Group Committee. He nods, as if to back up his statement. Continue reading

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