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.

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

Vampire brats

 

The quotes of the day: an alleged new talent to add to the snow leopard’s considerable tally, but one without any known biological basis.

# Interview 1

It has happened a farmer has 10 goats – worth 20,000 rupees [US$ 200] each. The leopard kills the whole herd and sucks the blood – 200,000 rupees [US$ 2,000] loss. You are very lucky if you get 20,000 rupees [US$ 200] from…[the park management]…as total compensation.

# Interview 2

Last year 3 of her cows were eaten by the snow leopard in her in-house shed. It’s only been recently the snow leopard is ascending into the villages [from higher altitudes]. One household lost 8 goats to the snow leopard in the last 12 months, the…[snow leopard]…only drinks the blood and leaves the animal.

 

Mountains of the mind

Two months on from finishing fieldwork, the snow leopard conservation journey continues.

The Himalayas may be thousands of miles from where I sit writing this, but their epic proportions feel much closer to home.  That’s because the mountains that I’ve been working amongst over the last two months are not physical entities but mountains of data.  With over 700 household questionnaires and 70 interviews collected there’s a lot of information to be sifted through and checked.  I’ve just spent three weeks, for example, going through around 15,000 responses to open questions – were the respondent can say whatever they want rather than picking predetermined answers – and putting them in relevant categories.  Only now am I ready to start analysing this data with statistics. Continue reading

Water of life

Water is key to understanding snow leopard habitat and snow leopard conservation. Jonny explains.

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.

Coleridge

Life in the Himalayas is defined by water. It’s everywhere, but like in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, there’s less of it to drink than you might think. That’s because the majority of the water is ice and snow. Indeed, there’s so much ice and snow here that the region has been dubbed ‘The Third Pole’. Across the snow leopard’s mountain kingdom – in the Himalayas and other Central Asian ranges – there are four main ways that water relates to the species.

Continue reading

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Marshyangdi river valley, Annapurna

Yunkar Gompa in the NarPhu valley

Yaks in the NarPhu valley

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