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.

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

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

No free lunch

A bright idea for surveying tourists turns into a lot of extra work. Maurice and Jonny recount the sad story.

Maurice: ‘Rinzin, can you please check with him if he is happy to sell his last bottle of methylated spirits to us…’

Rinzin: ‘Yes, he is more than happy!’

Maurice: ‘Fantastic! And could you check with him that he really doesn’t need it…’

After much dialogue, headshaking and difficult facial expressions, it became clear there was, in fact, a problem. 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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