Wildlife Charity Wins World Challenge Competition
Snow Leopard Conservation Project Voted Number One in Competition Hosted by BBC World News and Newsweek
November 30th, 2011—Seattle, WA
A program developed by the Snow Leopard Trust, a Seattle-based conservation organization, has won first place in the World Challenge. The program, called ‘Snow Leopard Enterprises,’ was created to protect endangered snow leopards in Mongolia. It was one of 12 projects selected for the global World Challenge competition run by BBC World News and Newsweek Magazine in association with Shell.
Snow Leopard Enterprises was chosen by World Challenge as an innovative business model that also benefits the environment. The program helps herders in Mongolia make and sell fine wool handicrafts to increase their income. In turn, herders sign conservation contracts pledging to protect snow leopards living in their area.
“Snow Leopard Enterprise works with over 250 families in Mongolia to protect snow leopards and improve the quality of life for herder families,” says Brad Rutherford, Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Trust, who visited with program participants in August. In 2010, every pledge to protect snow leopards was upheld and snow leopards were kept safe across over 25 communities. “Through Snow Leopard Enterprises, we’re improving the conservation status of snow leopards across roughly 50,000 square kilometers of prime snow habitat in Mongolia,” says Rutherford, “and thanks to the World Challenge we’ve been able to increase recognition and support for this important program.”
More than 600 proposals were submitted to World Challenge in 2011, from which a panel of judges selected 12 projects to compete. According to BBC World News, over 70,000 voted were cast for the 12 projects and the top three winners were chosen based solely on the number of public votes.
With the most number of votes, Snow Leopard Enterprises earned the coveted top spot in the competition. As a first place winner, the Snow Leopard Trust will receive a cash prize of $20,000 to advance conservation for snow leopards and Snow Leopard Enterprises will be featured in international versions of Newsweek Magazine and on BBC World News. The awards ceremony will be televised by BBC on December 3rd, 2011.
Every Snow Leopard Enterprises handicraft is unique, handcrafted, and represents a promise to protect snow leopards. The crafts are available through the Snow Leopard Trust’s online store snowleopard.org/shop with sales benefiting snow leopard conservation.
About the Snow Leopard Trust
Snow leopards are one of the most endangered big cats in the world with only 4,000-6,500 believed to be left in the wild. The Snow Leopard Trust is a non-profit organization founded in 1981 whose mission is to protect snow leopards and their mountain ecosystem through a balanced approach that addresses the needs of local people and the environment. Snow Leopard Enterprises is the flagship program of the Snow Leopard Trust and has been active in Mongolia for over a decade. More information at www.snowleopard.org
A video about Snow Leopard Enterprises made for the World Challenge can be found http://www.theworldchallenge.co.uk/finalists/8/changing_spots
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