Manang braces for conservation of endangered snow leopards

- SHIVA SHARMA, Kaski
Manang braces for conservation of endangered snow leopards

Oct 27, 2014-

Locals of Tilche in Manang district have started a campaign to protect snow leopards, an animal placed on the endangered species list of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

These locals from a mountainous district which falls in the Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal’s largest protected area, had started the campaign by forming a cash saving and management committee for the conservation of the big cats.  The Tilche locals started the campaign despite losing increasing number of their livestocks -- especially offsprings of Chauri gai, a cross between a Yak and a local hill cow -- to attacks by snow leopards every year. Established with the assistance of Snow Leopard Conservation Programme of Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), locals have started saving at least Rs 200 per month for the conservation of the endangered species. The conservation programme itself has provided financial assistance worth

Rs 200,000 as initial capital to the cash saving and management committee.

According to Anil Adhikari, conservation and sustenance officer of the programme, they intend to extend the campaign initiated to mitigate human-wildlife conflict in Mustang to various VDCs located in Upper Manang soon. While the campaign has increased awareness about the importance for the conservation of the endangered animal, it has also developed a habit of saving among locals, Adhikari said. Adhikari informed that similar campaign has started materialising in Sagarmatha National Park too.    

Adhikari informed that 25 percent of the amount collected will be used for the conservation of the big cat. While 15 percent will be used to compensate those bearing losses from snow leopard attack, the remaining 10 percent will be used to raise awareness and install educational artworks at schools in order to spread awareness about the elusive snow leopard and other conservation efforts.

Meanwhile, locals who resorted to attacking and at times even killing the animal after losing their livestock such as cattle, sheep, chauri gai and other domestic animals each year to leopard attacks expressed hope that the campaign will help mitigate the losses incurred by them. Likewise, after being aware about its importance to the region’s ecology, locals have developed a mentality to refrain from killing the animal and instead concentrate on building well-managed livestock sheds. Furthermore, they have also started taking other measures; livestock insurance being one of them.

“The campaign is expected to keep a tab on the dwindling number of the endangered snow leopard in the Annapurna region,” said Sudip Adhikari, chief conservation officer of ACAP, Manang. The National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1973 has categorised snow leopards found mostly in areas above 3,000 metres above sea level under the list of endangered species. According to the provision, one can be charged up to Rs 50,000-100,000 in fine or face five to 15 years of jail term or both if found involved in the hunting and smuggling of the animal.

It is estimated that there are about 350-500 snow leopards in Nepal.

Published: 28-10-2014 08:57

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