Snow Leopard Conservancy
There’s a recurring maxim in the work of saving snow
leopards: conservation needs sustained effort to take proper root.
So many of you, our long-term donors, have given more than
funding; through your steady support and trust, you’ve given us
the gift of time to transform community capacity for protecting
environmental and cultural values. Thank you!
Two important programs were initiated in 2019 following
the seventh annual Land of the Snow Leopard Network (LOSL)
gathering. LOSL members elected to expand Nomadic Nature
Trunks into our five program areas, under the dynamic leadership
of Tunga Khuukhenduu. The Conservancy has supported Tunga’s
snow leopard trunk program in Mongolia since 2011. In 2015, she
received a Disney Conservation Hero Award.
Zhaparkul Raimbekov is guardian of a sacred site in Kyrgyzstan’s mountains. He is also a Batachy (Giver
of Blessings). As a spiritual leader, Zhaparkul had never worked under the requirements of a western grant.
During our LOSL gathering he developed a very clear vision of how he and a team of indigenous cultural
practitioners could mount a campaign to engage elders and students in reviving traditional knowledge of the
sacredness of the snow leopard. See pages 8-9 for more impacts from this community-based program that
has grown so remarkably since 2013.
In Nepal’s Himalaya, on-going political changes contribute to the long-term progress of snow leopard
conservation. We work proactively with Mountain Spirit to strengthen local government capacity and
community partnerships, linking conservation with new, enhanced and diversified livelihoods, like livestock
veterinary outreach and establishment of the Snow Leopard Trail.
We continued training young biologists and citizen scientists to utilize new technologies in
conservation-related research. In Mongolia, we demonstrated that drones with infrared, temperature-
sensing cameras are more accurate than ground surveys for counting wild prey of snow leopards. See Ghost
of the Gobi, a short video documenting this effort. In Pakistan and China, our partners continue to refine
non-invasive methods for cataloging snow leopard diet from scats.
Time, continuity, and the gift of your donor dollars have made the difference in bringing conservation
education to children in Central Asia and in our ability to mentor the next generation of snow leopard
2000 children and adults, including
girls for whom education is often
unavailable, participated in Conservancy-
supported education programs.
200 camera-trap images of snow
leopards were captured by Conservancy
partners in Pakistan providing a clearer
look at the cats’ population, habitat use,
8 incidents of snow leopards being
released back into the wild in Tajikistan
since the Land of the Snow Leopard
Network (LOSL) began conservation
education in that region. The eight cats
had been caught killing livestock.
All 5 Land of the Snow Leopard
Network regions initiated education and
conservation action programs, building
on the mutual trust and confidence
built over the past seven years.
157 Foxlights were provided to
Conservancy partners in Bhutan,
China, Mongolia, and Nepal. These
solar powered devices flash colored
lights that deter predators from
Photo: Vikram Singh Wild World India
Protecting Snow Leopards Through Capacity Building
Photos - BWCDO-G. Mohammad
Nepal’s region of Nar-Phu contains some of
the country’s best habitat for snow leopards
and their wild prey, blue sheep. Nar-Phu
villagers lose an average of 2-4 livestock per
household annually, an estimated economic
impact of $489–$766 per household. Darwin
Initiative funding enabled the Conservancy
and our partner, Mountain Spirit, to train
members of the local municipality to
ensure environmental safeguarding in
planning new income-generating activities,
and to assist villagers in diversifying their
livelihoods. More than half the participants
The Conservancy continues
to utilize trail cameras and
other technologies in building
the capacity of communities
to be the frontline guardians
of their wildlife heritage.
With better income
generation, along with good
animal husbandry and
measures such as Foxlights
to control depredation,
communities can tolerate
some loss of livestock to snow
Working with Duquesne University scientists and local herders, the Conservancy is
analyzing snow leopard scats to determine snow leopard diet and dependence on livestock.
Molecular genetics and herders’ experience and knowledge reveal important patterns of
Lights for Life: Reducing Human-Wildlife Conflict
Photos: Charlotte Hacker
The team, including the Chinese Academy of
Forestry and local forest officials, evaluated the
effectiveness of Foxlights (yellow device at right) for
deterring snow leopards and other predators from
approaching livestock at night, when most losses
occur. Besides sheep and goats, domestic yaks,
especially the young, are vulnerable to snow
The Foxlights are effective; herders have asked us
Snow Leopard Day Festivals and Educational Workshops
The Baltistan Wildlife Conservation and Development Organization (BWCDO)
conducts workshops for teachers and students, especially encouraging girls’
participation to raise awareness and advocacy for snow leopard conservation.
The Conservancy supported Snow Leopard Day festivals in Mongolia, Nepal, and
Pakistan. Over one thousand children and community members learned about
the high mountain ecosystem and the importance of predators in the
Photo: Lyubov Ivashkina
Land of the Snow Leopard Network
The 100+ members of the Land of
the Snow Leopard (LOSL) Network
represent the Altai and Buryat
Republics of Russia, Kyrgyzstan,
Mongolia, and Tajikistan. LOSL is
guided by shamans, sacred site
guardians, and revered elders.
These spiritual leaders have begun
to develop and implement
conservation education and action
plans aimed at revitalizing
traditional practices that were all
but lost during the Soviet era.
Zhaparkul Raimbekov (above, back row, center) developed the Elders and Youth for
Conservation of the Snow Leopard campaign. He brought together cultural practitioners
and youth to share traditional knowledge about snow leopards and their habitat. This
campaign was featured in local media and national television, and led to requests by
communities, including high school students, for Zhaparkul to continue teaching about
sacred animals, traditions, and about their ancestral roots.
Visit LOSL’s beautiful website
In Tajikistan, LOSL Country Coordinator Qurbon Alamshoev has spearheaded annual
festivals as a way of transferring to local communities traditional knowledge about the
Pamir Mountain ecology and ancient taboos against killing sacred animals. Qurbon
describes how these festivals have been largely responsible for a remarkable outcome:
Between 2015 and October 2019, eleven snow leopards were forgiven by Pamiri
communities for livestock raiding and released back into the habitat. I believe that in
none of the twelve snow leopard range countries has there been such humane action.
Photo: Steve Winter, NGS
Zhaparkul and his team employed elements of Nomadic Nature Trunks, a Conservancy-
supported education program started in 2011 in Mongolia. These classrooms-in-a-
trunk have lesson plans and materials to teach children about their environment. LOSL
members unanimously agreed that Nature Trunks should be expanded—with the
addition of materials focused on the sacred nature of snow leopards and their role in
traditional life—into all their regions, as an LOSL program.
The Story of Our Cover
Tulgazana Darikhuu is a Mongolian herder and Land of the Snow Leopard Network
Community Coordinator. He lives in the Gobi Desert, near snow leopard habitat. He told
us that he first understood the need to protect snow leopards in the wild when he saw
one in a zoo in the U.S.
He needed a camera to try to photograph the cats he occasionally saw when out with
his herds. But he had no money. He did have a motorcycle, so he sold it, and took his
new camera into the mountains with his sheep and goats. He’d made a special disguise to
wear, so any snow leopard that came along might think he was just a shaggy cow.
One day, he somehow spotted the two cubs shown on our cover; they were waiting for
their mother. One was very shy, but the other was very curious about him and what he
was up to. He presented the photo at our 2019 Land of Snow Leopard gathering.
Snow Leopard Conservancy began the process of updating our Strategic
Plan and implementing steps to ensure robust, resilient, and sustainable
snow leopard community-based stewardship programs.