(aka) The International Snow Leopard Trust
4649 Sunnyside Ave. N.
Seattle, WA 98103
Known throughout the world for its beautiful fur and elusive nature, the endangered snow leopard is found in the rugged mountains of Central Asia. But even on the 'roof of the world,' snow leopards come into conflict with rural communities.
Last year, a snow leopard in our research study in Mongolia's Gobi Desert region entered a herder's land and killed more than a dozen sheep and goats. The cat, nicknamed Shonkhor, stubbornly protected his meal and refused to leave a spot close to the family's home.
The herder could have easily shot Shonkhor to protect the rest of his livestock. In fact, herder retaliation is one of the greatest threats to snow leopards across Mongolia. But instead, this family called our staff. Together, they were able to encourage Shonkhor to move away.
The loss of so many livestock was a financial hardship on the family. But they were able to join a livestock insurance program started by Snow Leopard Trust to receive compensation. Herders in the program can insure their livestock and pay premiums into a community-managed fund. They can then file claims for livestock lost to snow leopards. In 2011, 32 families in the South Gobi insured over 4100 animals. During the year, there was a total loss of 96 livestock, which was compensated with over $4000. With the economic support of this program, herders were able to tolerate losses to snow leopards and in 2011 no cats were harmed in the region.
In key parts of their range, snow leopard numbers have declined as much as 40% in recent decades and as few as 4,000 cats remain in the wild. You can support programs like livestock insurance in Mongolia to help communities to save these remaining cats.