Scaling up: Good Practices

The success of GSLEP implementation depends on scaling up known and tested key actions and good practices.

Good practices that have proven successful in one or more range countries are being scaled-up in those countries or emulated in others.

For example, programs to increase community participation in conservation, improve livelihoods, and address human-wildlife conflict have been tested in Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Russia with very promising results including reductions in poaching of snow leopards and increased willingness to co-exist with the predators.

Creation of anti-poaching team and stiff penalties for poaching have also proven effective in Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia.

Establishment of protected areas has brought significant areas under protection in Bhutan, China, Tajikistan, India, and many countries plan to create new protected areas or strengthen their existing protected area system.

Effective scientific monitoring programs are being conducted in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Kyrgyz Republic, and Russia and their methods can be applied, with adaptation as necessary, in others.

In other areas, such as engaging industry, capacity building and policy enhancement, and building awareness, successful models are available from other parts of developing and developed world.

Habitat Management and Land Use*Brief Results
Bhutan – Country-wide system of biological corridors connecting PAs.Contiguous snow leopard habitat of as much as 10,000 km2.
China – 26 nature reserves established covering about 50% of range areas of snow leopard populations; large-scale program to return grazing areas to natural grasslands implemented around range areas of snow leopard populations; research on measures to minimize negative impacts for connecting fragmented habitats started.Most of the core areas for snow leopards have been under legal and actually effective protection while recovery of natural grassland ecosystems and increase of prey resources occurred in many former grazing areas.
Kazakhstan – Forest and Hunting Committee established six national parks in snow leopard habitat.Additional jobs for locals were created, poaching has considerably decreased, and anthropogenic pressure on landscapes has decreased; security of snow leopard ecosystems has improved.
Mongolia – The Tost Local Protected Area in Mongolia covers about 6,500 km2, a quarter of which is good snow leopard habitat.Since 1990s many new PAs were established in potential snow leopard habitats in Mongolia.Basis for protection of critical snow leopard landscapes from destructive land uses such as mining, dams, and other large-scale development projects.Today, 20 state PAs, which cover key habitats in Mongolia, harbor snow leopards.
Russia – Sailugemsky National Park (800 km2) was established in 2010 in key snow leopard habitats in Argut River Watershed, Altai Republic.Protection of snow leopard habitats; fighting snare poaching in key snow leopard habitats in Argut area.
Tajikistan – Establishing and/or supporting model community and private wildlife management and hunting areas.Doubling of ibex numbers within four years and regular records of snow leopards; increase of markhor (in total 2012 directly observed >1,000), regular snow leopard observations, stabilization and local increase of Marco Polo sheep numbers; camera trapping has shown higher snow leopard abundance in managed hunting concession than in unassigned areas despite formal hunting ban in these.
India – maintain community-managed reserves that rely on ‘social fencing’ to limit or exclude local use of the area based on a positive incentive programme.Tried in Spiti (3 sites) and Ladakh (2 sites) where recovery of prey (bharal and ibex in Spiti;   and argali and bharal in Ladakh) has been observed. Similar community-managed reserves have also been successful in Arunachal Pradesh in Tawang. The MoEF’s Project Snow Leopard suggests a mosaic of such areas as an important approach to achieving landscape-level conservation.
India – inaccessible and naturally well protected small sized PAs with negligible or no human use and well regulated, low-intensity community-based ecotourism to small portions of the PA since 1983.Tried in Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks that brought in remarkable improvement in the status of wildlife and their habitats. These two NPs act as control sites for long-term monitoring including climate change impacts.
India – Conflict mitigation and reducing antagonism and retaliatory killing of snow leopard. Corral Improvement: ca. 4,250 livestock; Insurance: over 180 households with ca. 600 livestock, overall area of over 1,000 km2. Compensation: direct compensation for livestock lost at 10% of the market price of the animal.Corral Improvement: Almost total elimination of losses. Insurance: Reduction in losses. Monetary compensation of losses: Slight improvement seen in attitudes of people in about 10 years.
Addressing Poaching, Illegal Trade, Illicit Demand
Afghanistan – outreach, education, community governance building, and training and deployment of 55 community rangers across 11,000 km2 to monitor snow leopard and other wildlife, enforce anti-poaching regulations; building of predator-proof corrals to minimize conflict and retaliatory killing.Snow leopard education intiatives in 14 of 15 schools in Wakhan; over 5,000 camera trap photos taken by community rangers; five snow leopards captured, collared, and monitored with community involvement; poaching declines on snow leopards and prey; over 20 corrals built and no livestock loss in families using them.
Afghanistan – survey identified international commmunity (development and military) as driver of trade; focused outreach aimed at development community; training at military bases on illegality of trade; government staff trained in CITES regulations and the processing of CITES permits; training in environmental laws, wildlife trade and protected species given to 19 police stations in and around Kabul.Removal of illegal trade items from base bazaars; training expanded to military bases and academies in US to educate military before deployment.
China – Chinese laws list snow leopard as a species under national key protection at first level and prohibit hunting of the species except for purposes of scientific research, public education, public security. Utilization of snow leopards must be approved with special permits while no permits are now issued for commercial purposes. Severe punishments from high penalties (10 times incomes) up to life in prison have been set by laws and regulations on illegal activities including poaching, illegal trade, etc. Authorities of forestry, public security, customs, commercial and industry administration are legally responsible for legal investigation and law enforcement on the above illegal activities. Mechanism for governmental agencies to coordinate law enforcement established in 2011.Currently in China, no evidence indicates the existence of organized poaching that targets snow leopard products. Also, there are no legal industries using snow leopard fur or bone for commercial purposes. Cases of poaching and illegal trade occur occasionally and arrested offenders have been sentenced and punished. Especially since 2011, illegal activities concerning snow leopards have clearly decreased.
Kazakhstan – Reducing poaching through substantial increase of penalties. Penalties for poaching on a snow leopard ($22,724) and all 5 subspecies of mountain rams ($17,043). Total ban on their hunting.Poaching has decreased on a snow leopards and other rare species. No cases of snow leopards poaching in Kazakhstan reported since.
Kyrgyz Republic Gruppa Bars (brigade) for anti-poaching. Raids against poachers in all regions of the Kyrgyz Republic, especially in the north. In Naryn region, 35,000 km2 ,and in Issyk-Kul region, 25,000 km2, are covered by the team, together with State inspection.Reducing the official notice on the sale of skins of snow leopards, etc. At the moment, the Rehabilitation Center has only five snow leopards.
Mongolia – Two inter-agency Irbis (snow leopard) anti-poaching teams were established in western Mongolia to conduct regular patrolling in snow leopard habitat.As a result, the number of poaching incidents in 5 western provinces, in key snow leopard habitats decreased rapidly.
Pakistan – Reduce poaching through livestock vaccination programs. 3-5 livestock die of disease for every one killed by a wild predator, i.e., the economic loss to disease is much larger than to predation. More than 90,000 livestock vaccinated in 2012.70-100% reduction in livestock mortalities. Increased cash income by selling more livestock. Increased meat consumption in the community. Increased tolerance for snow leopard. Reduced risks for diseases in wildlife.
Russia – Inter-agency anti-poaching brigades and regular snare removal campaigns in key snow leopard habitats. Two brigades were established in Altai and Sayan Mountains. They regularly patrol 1,500 km2 of key snow leopard habitats in Argut River Watershed, Altai Republic, and Sayano-Shushensky NR and its buffer zone, Krasnoyarsky Kray.Number of poacher snares in key snow leopard habitats in Sayano-Shushensky NR decreased from 800-900 to zero between 2008 and 2013. In Argut area, number of snares in key snow leopard habitats decreased from 500-800 (2008) to 50-100 (2013).
Russia – Development of small business program for local communities in snow leopard habitats as alternative to snare poaching. Two districts of Altai Republic – Kosh-Agach and Ulagan Districts, including parts of Onguday and Ust-Koksa districts (total area about 20,000 km2). Annually, 500-700 people are involved in the program.Number of poaching cases in the area of activities decreased by at least 20% in comparison with 2010. Over 1,200 low-income people trained, over 70 people obtained micro-loans and grants and started their own biodiversity-friendly business. More than 200 new jobs for local communities were established.
Altai and Tuva Republics, Russia – Land of Snow Leopard Festivals. Schools of 5 districts in Altai Republic and 4 districts of Tuva Republic (1,500-2,000 people) annually are involved in these festivals.Number of festival participants increased from 70 in 2010 to 2,000 in 2012. Festival became traditional event in Altai and Tyva Republics and involves many kids living in snow leopard habitats to learn more about value of snow leopards.
Community Conservation Programs
Afghanistan – Formation of the community-based Wakhan-Pamir Association (WPA) to oversee sustainable natural resource management and economic development. Activities include a patrolling program (65 community rangers plus 10 government rangers) and a comprehensive Environmental Education Program that reaches all 15 schools in Wakhan and has a focus on snow leopard conservation initiatives.Patrolling program led to few instances of unreported wildlife crime.
China – Most of community conservation projects are undertaken by nature reserves, including public education events, establishment of hotline for collection of information from local people, employing local people to participate in field patrols and investigations, meeting with representatives to address existing conflicts and research on eco-friendly livelihoods for local communities. Also, local wildlife authorities undertake compensation for losses caused by snow leopards.Significantly improved law-enforcement effectiveness with more information coming from local people and decreased revenge killing of snow leopards when local people tend to report to local wildlife authorities their losses caused by snow leopards.
Nepal, India (Ladakh), Pakistan, Russia – Corral predator-proofing. Predator-proof most vulnerable communally-utilized corrals that serve 10-30+ households; 2-5 structures per settlement in proven depredation hotspots. Ensure wire-mesh over roof, secure wooden door, barred windows.Depredation losses from within corrals eliminated, resulting in improved perceptions by livestock owners and protection of 5+ snow leopards from risks of retributive poisoning or trapping. Notably increased willingness of community to co-exist with snow leopards.
Pakistan – Communally-managed daytime shepherding of vulnerable livestock in Khunjerab NP. Herders invest shared resources through fixed-fee payment or household rotation system.Communal herding better allows for pastures to be rotated, thus helping reduce predation risk and lower grazing impacts.
Pakistan – Vaccination and livestock insurance. 15 villages, 30,000 heads of livestock vaccinated in 2013.Controlled the outbreak of pox in two of our project valleys, reducing mortality rate to zero from pox.
Baltistan, Pakistan – Communally-managed and co-financed livestock insurance scheme. Funds for compensation contributed on 50:50 basis by villagers (through per animal fees) and sponsoring NGO (conditional grant).Greatly increased tolerance of snow leopards, especially if complemented by income-generating initiative such as markhor trophy hunting program or tourism initiative.
Western Tuva, Russia – Protecting livestock corrals from snow leopards in Ubsunurskay Kotlovina NR. More than 70 herders in Tuva Republic were trained in the simplest means of strengthening corrals with the use of metal mesh, and more than 40 corrals were protected from snow leopards in Mongun-Taiga and Bai-Taiga districts of Tyva Republic (about 1,500-2,000 km2).Since then there has not been a single case of a snow leopard gaining access to a corral in western Tuva (before this 56% of all livestock killed by snow leopards in western Tuva died in corrals). As a result of this project, the number of snow leopards south-western Tuva increased from 10-12 up to 15-20 individuals.
Monitoring and Research
Wakhan Corridor, Afghanistan – Ongoing camera-trap surveys of snow leopards; study of snow leopard prey; depredation survey; tracking of snow leopards using GPS collars, coupled with camera trapping.Better understanding of snow leopard movement, habitat use, home range, and eventually population estimation.
China – Central wildlife authority arranged funding especially for monitoring and research on snow leopards, and appointed a chief expert to lead the project who holds training course for local staff to undertake field monitoring or convenes meeting to collect information monitored, analyse existing problems, and discuss activities for next steps every year.Help wildlife authority to better understand the situation of snow leopard populations, their habitats, and existing threats.
India – Understand snow leopard abundance along a gradient of prey biomass (Spiti).Understanding snow leopard diets along a gradient of domestic and wild prey ratios (Spiti).Establishing an understanding of questions such as ‘does increasing prey biomass lead to higher snow leopard abundance?’; ‘does increasing livestock biomass lead to increased snow leopard abundance or is it the opposite?’; ‘will conflicts increase with increasing livestock abundance’, will be answered.These studies, that use camera-trap based and molecular tools are providing estimates of snow leopard assessments over large landscapes (ca. 2,000 km2). Estimated abundance in Spiti averages 0.64/100 km2.
India – Numerous studies to understand patterns of conflicts between local communities and snow leopard in different parts of the range.These studies provide the patterns of conflicts, including amount of losses, vulnerable livestock, vulnerable age classes, vulnerable pastures, etc. Ultimately they help in developing sound mitigation strategies.
India – Snow leopard abundance using camera trapping studies in Ladakh, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim.Density estimates for snow leopard and prey species.
Kazakhstan – State research program. The Committee on the Science has started to finance the program of studying snow leopards at Zoology Institute in Almaty, which was confirmed by the Ministry of Education and Science in 2012. Now the deep sectoral analysis in various segments of economy for working out of the final project of “Green Economy” Strategy is carried out.Increased understanding of snow leopard populatiions and their habitats.
Mongolia – Threat reduction-based planning and monitoring protocol to monitor effectiveness of conservation programs. All villages in the landscape are included and all key areas of biological significance: snow leopard habitat, key prey breeding and calving areas, and corridors.Ability to establish better baseline data for snow leopards including population abundance, density, and life history parameters; emerging or unaddressed threats to snow leopards; evaluation of the ability of our programs to address/reduce/manage existing and ongoing threats.
Russia – Monitoring program of key snow leopard population. Annual monitoring of key snow leopard meta-populations in Argut River Watershed, Chikhachev, Tsagan-Shibetu and Western Sayan Ridges on total area of about 1,500 km2m. Since 2012, started snow leopard monitoring in Eastern Sayan Mountains: Tunkinsky Ridge (about 500 km2).Information on snow leopard distribution and number is annually collected for 4 key snow leopard populations in Russia to support conservation actions.
Institutional Development and Capacity Building
China – Snow leopard has been listed as a priority species for salvation in National 12th-5 Year’s Plan of Forestry Development and National Program for Wildlife Conservation and Nature Reserve Development while a special plan for protection of snow leopard populations and their habitats is underway for publication and implementation.Investment in snow leopards conservation has been increased gradually and obvious growth can be expected in the not too distant future. Also, more attention has been paid to the species at concerned, different levels.
India – Initiated state-federal partnership Project Snow Leopard. Project Snow Leopard effectively covers five states, ca. 130,000 km2, innumerable villages and households. The Upper Spiti Landscape Management Plan under the PSL covers ca. 4,000 km2, ca. 40 villages, and ca. 7,000 people.Numeric changes in wildlife numbers and people’s attitudes in a few year’s time are expected.
Mobilizing Resources
China – Central wildlife authority allots special funding for snow leopard conservation and allocation of funding for recovery of grazing areas into natural grasslands, and will give priority consideration to their range areas. Local governments have arranged and will increase match funding. Also, a foundation established by businessmen promised to invest to support snow leopard conservation.More effective conservation can be expected based upon the increase of investment with guidance of the special plan.
India – Ladakh and Sikkim. Enhance Household Livelihoods and Incomes with Traditional Village Homestays (tourism-based). Key elements include product marketing; maintain high service standards; and wildlife protection and compliance monitoring. Program started in Hemis High Altitude NP, Ladakh (area approx. 3,000 km2). Homestays are best operated through established village Women’s Associations. The basic premise is to provide supplemental household income to offset depredation losses. Related services may include handicrafts production, vegetable growing, and other enterprises linked with rural tourism. Signed conservation agreement between beneficiaries and sponsoring organization is highly desirable.Villagers in Ladakh earn $10-15 / visitor night with average incomes of $750-1,000+. Surplus income used to send children to better schools. 10-15% of revenue deposited in community conservation fund. All participants highly willing to co-exist with snow leopards and no longer harass the cat when it is seen or encountered. More importantly, they tolerate some loss of livestock.
Ladakh, India – Valuation of wildlife through viewing and Nature Guiding inside Hemis National Park and outside national park in Ullay-Sham area.Snow leopard sightings gradually increasing from 1-3 / year to as many as 7 sightings over 10-day visit by 7+ groups comprised of 7-17 guests in 2013 (operated by travel agents).
India – The Ministry of Environment & Forests, Govt of India, has initiated the Project Snow Leopard, a national programme that commits 3% of the Wildlife Division’s budget annually to snow leopard conservation.Streamlined conservation management planning in prioritized landscapes in each of the five Himalayan States.
Kazakhstan – Promotion of snow leopard symbolism for the nation by the President. The archeological find from a barrow near Issyk town, called “the Golden Man,” on whose helmet were plates with winged leopards, has played a big role. H.E. President Nazarbayev suggested the snow leopard as a symbol of economic development of the country in the Message to the people of Kazakhstan entitled “Strategy-2030.” Since then, the snow leopard image is used as a talisman, a symbol, and a trading brand for beer (“Irbis”), vodkas (“Bars”, “the Gold Bars”), car batteries, etc.Symbolism of a snow leopard at the state level has played a great role in popularising the of image of this cat, and as a consequence, to improve measures for its protection.
Mongolia – More than 400 families of local herders living in the snow leopard habitats in 7 provinces of Mongolia are participating in the Snow Leopard Enterprises handicrafts project.Generation of sustainable income sources with the commitment to a non-poaching contract; local conservation communities are active with support of WWF Mongolia.
Nepal – Community-managed Savings and Credit Program, Mt. Everest National Park. 5-year project in 4 settlements comprises >125 households   located in or immediately adjacent to best snow leopard habitat within this PA.Snow leopards returned in 2004 following 20-year absence. Cooperative members quickly comprehend and appreciate the power of sustained savings and credit initiative to support household and community development. 25% of revenue from fund interest used for community-based snow leopard protection and education, especially through local school; early for detailed evaluation (to be completed).
Engaging Industry
Mongolia – The Nature Conservancy assessed mining impact for the southern Mongolian ecoregion, using indicator species.Recommended areas for better protection.