Module 8: Environmentally and Socially responsible Tourism in Snow Leopard Landscapes

Photo by Behzad Larry

About the module 

Tourism across the snow leopard range is growing rapidly. It is taking different forms in different settings and if managed effectively could be an opportunity to support or strengthen conservation efforts. However, tourism also may represent a threat to these fragile landscapes. 

The aim of this module is to create a platform to discuss principles that could be used to inform and facilitate environmentally and socially responsible tourism in snow leopard habitats. This includes how we define ‘conservation centered tourism’; considering social and environmental impacts; and how tourism can under certain circumstances be an effective conservation tool. The module brings together expertise from past, ongoing and planned tourism models from across the snow leopard range. This will allow us to showcase and discuss different facets of tourism and ways to maximize conservation potential. We recognise the experience of many SLN members in this area and encourage them to join us in this effort by contributing their own experiences and ideas.   

During the module participants will work with the facilitators to discuss and develop principles and a working framework that could guide responsible tourism in different settings. By the end of the course it is hoped that participants will be exposed to a broad set of perspectives and have had the opportunity to contribute to ideas and tools directed towards such goals. 

This module is being organized thanks to the support of the GSLEP Program. Range country governments have highlighted how tourism is increasing across the snow leopard range and there is a need to identify ways to assess trade-offs and find ways to leverage conservation goals (GSLEP doc). We hope that these discussions will contribute toward these goals.

Dates of sessions

    • February 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd 2021
    • Tuesdays 14:00- 16:00 Bishkek time.  

Draft Outline Schedule

    • Session 1: Tourism as a conservation tool?
    • Session 2: Community conservation & tourism
    • Session 3: Risks and opportunities
    • Session 4: Shaping relevant framework(s)
Photo by Behzad Larry
Photo by ShanShui Conservation Center

Meet the Resource Team 

Ajay Bijoor supports conservation efforts in the regions of Ladakh and Spiti valley in India. Over the last eight years, he has worked on setting up, running and monitoring community-conservation efforts in these regions. This effort aims at trying to create conditions conducive for conservation. More recently he has also been facilitating the process of building capacity for community-based conservation in snow leopard range countries. 

Behzad Larry is the CEO of Voygr Expeditions and a founding member of the High Asia Habitat Fund. An avid explorer, Behzad specializes in documenting the remote reaches of the world. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) and a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society. Voygr (pronounced voyager) operates guided tours along the ancient Silk Route in Central Asia, the Russian Far-East, the towering Himalayas, and North India. Voygr’s journeys combine the best of ancient cultures and living history, with phenomenal wildlife and awe-inspiring landscapes. Voygr specialises in conservation based tourism (cultural and environmental) and is the world’s leading ethical snow leopard tour operator. 

Ismail is an internationally featured nature and wildlife photographer and fine art printmaker who comes from from Hyderabad, India. His background was originally in Project Management and Entrepreneurship. “I aspire to make uncommon images with common subjects and my creative and emotional affinity towards nature is what drives me to capture wildlife images in an artistic manner. While the photographer community calls me the “Snow Leopard Man” for my good fortune of pursuing and documenting the rarest and most challenging of wild cats of India, at heart, I identify as a conservationist photographer. I believe in learning about the ground realities of the ecosystem first hand. My way of contributing to the cause of conservation is primarily through exhibiting and fundraising to support organisations like the Snow Leopard Network, Snow Leopard Trust and Fishing Cat Conservancy.”

Joanna Van Gruisen has lived in the subcontinent since the late 1970s. A wildlife documentary filmmaker and early pioneer of wildlife photography in India, she spent many years in J&K and Ladakh as photographer and as assistant organiser of Earthwatch volunteer tourism groups. As a wildlife photographer and writer on environment issues she has been at the heart of conservation in India for several decades. She now co-owns and runs a small eco lodge in central India and is a founder member of a trust, Baavan – bagh aap aur van, that is developing a conservation tourism project with the community in a remote area beyond the boundary of the Panna Tiger Reserve.

Dr. Raghu Chundawat started his career as a conservation biologist more than thirty years ago with research on snow leopard in Ladakh. Later, he worked as Regional Science and Conservation Director for the International Snow Leopard Trust. He was a member of the teaching faculty of the Wildlife Institute of India. He is very closely involved with tiger conservation and research in a dry tropical forest of central India and recently published a book based on his ten-year study there “The Rise and Fall of The Emerald Tigers”. For the last eight years, he has been active in wildlife tourism research. He is the recipient of several conservation awards. In 2003 BBC/Animal Planet produced an award-winning wildlife documentary film on his work with the Tigers in Panna − “Tigers of the Emerald Forest”.

Terry Townshend is a Beijing-based conservation and climate change expert with specific expertise on legislation and wildlife conservation in China. In 2018 he became a Fellow of the Paulson Institute, advising their conservation programme, and in 2019 I was invited by the Beijing Municipal government to be a consultant on a project to “rewild” Beijing. In 2017, in partnership with Chinese NGO ShanShui Conservation Center, he devised and helped to set up a community-based wildlife watching tourism project with yak herders on the Tibetan Plateau, focusing on snow leopards. The herders were awarded the first community-based tourism concession for a National Park in China, informing policy development for China’s national park system, and in 2020, were awarded second prize in the Nature Stewardship category of the coveted Paulson Prize.

Yuhan Li is a conservationist from China. She is a Rhodes Scholar and a MPhil candidate at the University of Oxford. Her current research involves analysing public perceptions around the illegal trade of jaguar in Latin America, and wild meat consumption in China and central Africa. Before going to Oxford, she was a trainee of Shanshui Conservation Centre and managed the field station in the Sanjiangyuan National Park. She coordinated several community-based snow leopard conservation projects, such as human-wildlife conflict solution and snow leopard eco-tourism. 

The module will also be supported by GSLEP and SLN’s Koustubh Sharma, Justine Shanti Alexander, Ranjini Murali and Rakhee Karumbaya .

Criteria for participation

    • Snow Leopard Network Member
    • Confirmed availability to attend all the four online seminars of a given module
    • Experience of working on snow leopard conservation or Tourism or concrete plans to be involved in such efforts is welcome and we encourage participants to contribute ideas and experiences. 
    • Number of participants is limited to 20-30

Planned Schedule

    • 2 hour online Zoom Seminars take place every Tuesday of the month, February 2021 (4 Seminars; Feb 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd) at 14:00- 16:00 Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan time
    • Please note we encourage participants to attend the complete set of Seminars as they are interconnected and build on each other

Applications

    • Applications close Thursday, January 28th, 2021. 
    • Please note places are limited so please do not delay in applying.
    • Application link here
Photo by Behzad Larry

Module 7: Active listening in community conservation

Very warm New Year greetings to all.

The SLN training initiative continues in 2021. In followup to last years multi-disciplinary snow leopard training modules we will begin the year with a short module- Active listening in community conservation– that builds on Module 3’s PARTNERS Principle’s community conservation focus. This January module was specifically requested by the Module 3 training participants in September and we are delighted to welcome Juliette Young and Ajay Bijoor to lead this session. 

Please note that this training will be a one off intensive session taking place mid January- so if interested do not miss it! This Module is offered thanks to the support of the University of Bourgogne Franche-Comte, Nature Conservation Foundation and the Snow Leopard Trust.

About the course

When working with communities and local people, our ability to listen attentively can go a long way in gaining a greater understanding of the context and the perspectives of different people. It also is key to building trust with communities and individuals. In order to really understand and empathise with others it is essential to be able to listen to what others are saying, without distraction, without hearing what you think you should hear, and without immediately jumping to conclusions. Active listening is a skill that can be learned and does help us as conservationists in the practice of empathy. It does require however concentration, practice and reflection. This course will introduce you to the principles of Active Listening and give you practical tools to build these skills.  

About the Facilitators

Juliette Young is a Professor at the University of Bourgogne Franche-Comte, where she studies the human dimensions of biodiversity conservation. Much of her work focuses on the role of different actors, especially decision-makers and local communities, in the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity. She has been working with the Snow Leopard Trust since 2016 on training in community-based conservation.

Ajay Bijoor supports conservation efforts in the regions of Ladakh and Spiti valley in India. Over the last eight years, he has worked on setting up, running and monitoring community-conservation efforts in these regions. This effort aims at trying to create conditions conducive for conservation. More recently he has also been facilitating the process of building capacity for community-based conservation in snow leopard range countries. 

Justine Shanti Alexander is the Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Network. She provides support to the evaluation of the efficiency and effectiveness of community conservation initiatives to partners across the snow leopard range. Justine also acts as the Regional Ecologist for the Snow Leopard Trust and supports research and conservation work across in China, Mongolia, Pakistan, India and Pakistan.

Criteria for participation

  • Confirmed availability to attend the online seminar
  • Number of participants is limited to 25
  • Priority will be given to participants from snow leopard range countries 

Planned Schedule

  • 2 hour online Zoom Seminar on January 20th, 2021 at 14:30 Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan time. 

Applications

  • Friday, January 15th, 2021. Please note places are limited so please do not delay in applying.
  • Application link here