Module 8: Environmentally & Socially responsible Tourism in Snow Leopard Landscapes
An on-line resource for practitioners
About this 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 organised thanks to the support of the GSLEP Program , Snow Leopard Foundation-Pakistan and PSLEP. 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.
Photos of snow leopards & blue sheep by Behzad Larry
Lets get started
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.
Zhiqiu Liu is a trainee at the ShanShui Conservation Centre in China. She is in charge of ShanShui’s National Park pilot program in Sanjiangyuan, Qinghai Province. This primarily consists of supporting communities with community conservation programs that mitigate negative human-wildlife interactions. The team assist local communities with the annual Angsai Nature Watch Festival and the Valley of the cats community-led tourism program. Before joining ShanShui, she was an expedition leader with China’s National Geographic.
Dr. Ali Nawaz has 20 years of field research experience, spanning over diverse geographical regions in Pakistan, and has 35 scientific articles and over 30 management reports to his credit. His primary focus is on understanding ecology, co-existence, and conservation issues of the carnivore community in northern Pakistan. Dr Nawaz has worked intensively with the mountainous communities in alleviating human-carnivore conflicts and promoting acceptance of large carnivores. In recognition of Dr. Nawaz’s efforts to protect the endangered snow leopard in the mountains of northern Pakistan, HRH The Princess Royal presented him the 2016 Whitley Award, a prestigious international nature conservation prize. Dr. Nawaz holds a PhD in ecology and natural resource management from University of Life Sciences Norway, and has rich exposure to various wildlife field techniques, and is trained in animal capturing, marking and telemetry, and GIS and remote sensing.
The module will also be supported by GSLEP and SLN’s Koustubh Sharma, Justine Shanti Alexander, Ranjini Murali and Rakhee Karumbaya.
“We also plan to develop community-led ecotourism activities in our study area as well as in areas where snow leopard live, in order to raise local and international awareness about the protection of the Gobi desert ecosystem and its wild species. We also would like to support the local community.
This course was very important for my work as it provided me with important information about socially responsible tourism and enhanced my knowledge and skills before implementing our tourism activities.
I strongly believe this course will help other conservationists and tour guides and agencies to implement Environmentally and Socially responsible tourism in snow leopard landscapes.”
“Responsible community-based tourism, especially wildlife-based tourism, is perhaps the best means to augment community incomes and help them with a direct benefit from conserving wildlife. The online course provided insights on every facet of planning and setting up an effective Community Based Tourism programme, including working on equity, safeguards and
presenting different models.
All resource persons did a wonderful job, but I especially benefitted from the tremendous experience of Raghu Chundawat and Joanna, and of course the efficient white boarding by Koustubh”
Yash Veer, India