Jumolhari Snow Leopard Conservation Program Launched

The Bhutan Foundation recently announced the Jumolhari Snow Leopard Conservation Program, which engages two communities located in snow leopard habitat, to conserve snow leopards in the area of the Jumolhari trek. This program is supported by the Snow Leopard Conservancy, Jigme Dorji National Park, the Nature Recreation and Ecotourism Division, and the Bhutan Foundation.

Bhutan Foundation announcement is as follows:

An initiative of Yutoed and Yaksa communities

“The Jumolhari trek is one of the most popular trekking routes in Bhutan and passes through prime snow leopard and blue sheep habitat. Numerous camera trap photos, signs, and DNA sampling from the region has established the region as one of the best snow leopard habitats in Bhutan. The two communities of Soe Yutoed and Soe Yaksa lie along the Jumolhari trek. Yutoed has 28 households and Yaksa 18. The residents are primarily yak herders as the area is mostly above treeline. While yak predation is prevalent in the area, the herders have generally been tolerant of some level of predation all along. However, public attitudes and perception towards snow leopards are fast changing.

When community members begin to see real, tangible benefits from snow leopard conservation, they are more likely to support it. If a conservation program has buy-in and ownership of the local residents, it is more likely to be sustainable in the long run. These are the foundations on which the Jumolhari Snow Leopard Conservation Program is built.

The Jumolhari Snow Leopard Conservation is a community initiative supported by the Jigme Dorji National Park, the Nature Recreation and Ecotourism Division, the Snow Leopard Conservancy and the Bhutan Foundation. It aims to guide tangible benefits of snow leopard conservation to the local residents so that the snow leopard is seen as an asset rather than a liability, and hence something to be treasured. It seeks to use the snow leopard as the focus for holistic development of the communities through the following:

* Reduction of GID disease in yak (one of the highest causes of yak mortality)
* Offsetting livestock predation through livestock insurance
* Income generation through homestays
* Income generation through boutique handicraft
* Snow leopard and prey monitoring by community members and park
* Instituting snow leopard festival as main tourism event of the year
* Using Soe Yutoed School for increasing awareness on snow leopard conservation

For further information on this exciting new program please contact us at info@bhutanfound.org”

Sources: http://bhutanfound.org, http://snowleopardconservancy.org/2013/01/21/bhutan/

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