Education Efforts in Mongolia Gain Momentum
From the Snow Leopard Blog
of the Snow Leopard Trust
(27 Feb 2012)
When snow leopards predate on livestock, herding families must make a difficult choice between protecting their livelyhood and protecting the cats. Last year, we discovered that for the people living within snow leopard habitat, the answer to this difficult question was not clear.
When the snow leopard Shonkor killed more than a dozen domestic sheep and goats, we were concerned. We empathized with the herder, and worried about the safety of Shonkor. Incidents like this have driven other herders in Mongolia to kill snow leopards. But this time, the herder contacted our staff. Our field team immediately went to help.
The herder’s first tactics had not worked. He had, in an attempt to keep the cat from killing more of his livestock, parceled out one carcass daily to the cat, hoping it would be too full to kill again. The cat then didn’t want to leave! He stayed, right next to the yurt – and it scared the family.
Our staff used knowledge gleaned from our in-depth research to find a better solution. They helped the herder move one of the dead animals to a hillside far from the yurt, and to get rid of the rest. Shonkor was able to feed on the carcass without threatening the family or the rest of the herd. The family then diligently patrolled the corral – flashing lights at night, making noise, and discouraging Shonkor from returning. He didn’t. As for the family, we helped them to join the new Mongolian livestock insurance program so they can be compensated for livestock losses like this in the future.
This situation highlighted an important need to educate communities about better ways prevent and respond to snow leopard predation.
The first step was to conduct day-long workshops with participants of the Snow Leopard Enterprises program. Over 330 people met to share how they already address snow leopard visits, and learn what additional information they need and want.
Now, Nadia M., Conservation Education Manager for the Trust and its partner organization SLCF Mongolia, has developed a poster summarizing the best practices from the herders and international experts. We plan on distributing 500 posters to people in more than 25 villages, as well as park rangers and others who need the information.
Hopefully, the end result will be fewer of the types of conflicts that can lead to snow leopard killings.
Unfortunately, Shonkor passed away of natural causes in August of 2011. We are grateful that he was able to teach us so much about snow leopards, and how to live in peace with them.