China Requires News Reporters to Wear Fur

New Delhi
2 May 2006

There was a small but alarming news item on the Tibetan service of Radio Free Asia today.

Recently presenters at the Amdo Tso-ngo TV channel in Qinghai, China, were instructed by the head of the Chinese government’s Information Centre and United Front Department that they must wear animal skin costumes, chubas, while presenting the news. When they said that they did not have any, the presenters were told that this was a political issue and that if they did not have a skin chuba then they must buy one. They were then immediately given money by the authorities for this.

The Chinese head of the Qinghai TV channel was interviewed by Radio Free Asia on 27 April 2006. He confirmed the story and that funds had been provided by the Chinese government’s United Front Department to purchase the animal skin chubas.

The link to the Radio Free Asia programme (which is in the Amdo language) is

We are trying to find out more, and in particular how widespread this instruction by the authorities is regarding the purchase and wearing of skin chubas, and whether it includes endangered species such as tiger and leopard skins that are protected by Chinese law and CITES.

Belinda Wright, Executive Director
S-25 Panchsheel Park, New Delhi 110017, India
Tel:    (Int+ 91.11) 4163.5920 & 4163.5921
Fax:   (Int+ 91.11) 4163.5924

Snow Leoard Radio-Collaring Study Announced

News Release for SLN

April 2006- Ten years ago this month, Dr. Tom McCarthy placed the first satellite radio-collar on a snow leopard in Mongolia.  That was also the last snow leopard to be studied using any type of radio-telemetry.   The Snow Leopard Trust today announced a new study in Pakistan that will make use of cutting-edge technology by placing up to 5 GPS radio-collars on snow leopards in and near Chitral Gol National Park in autumn of this year.  The new GPS collars the Trust intends to use can record the exact position of the cat many times each day, then store the information or send it to the researchers via satellite links.

The Trust has been actively developing other high-tech research methods for snow leopards to monitor population size and trends, including trap-cameras and pioneering work on genetic finger-printing for the species.  Dr. McCarthy, Science and Conservation Director for the Snow Leopard Trust, states that ”Even with the successes of these new methods, there remain a number of questions that can only be addressed through detailed studies involving radio-telemetry.  Answering these questions is critical if we are to conserve these amazing animals.  Our findings will also help to identify ways of reducing conflicts between herders and leopards, since depredation on livestock is a source of economic hardship to the people and results in a major threat to the cats.  This new study will be of great benefit to our conservation efforts.”

The radio-collaring project will be conducted as a partnership between Pakistan‘s Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) Wildlife Department, WWF-Pakistan, and the Snow Leopard Trust.  It will be done in conjunction with a Large Carnivore Study in Chitral Gol funded by the GEF/World Bank Protected Areas Management Project (PAMP).   Funding for the radio-collaring aspects of the work has been provided by donors in the USA through a generous matching grant from the Felidae Conservation Fund.

The Snow Leopard Trust is well situated to conduct the studies, since they have been working in northern Pakistan for more than a decade and have a skilled local staff to see the project successfully through.  Dr. McCarthy will be in Pakistan for much of May working alongside NWFP and WWF biologists to initiate the study and select sites for capturing and collaring the elusive cats later this year.

For more information contact:

or visit

A Few Days with a Snow Leopard in the Tooshi-Shasha Community Game Reserve

Its unique topography and floral diversity has made the “Tooshi Game Reserve ” one of the potential habitats of the Snow Leopard and its prey-base i.e. Markhor (Capra falconri kashmiriancis) in Chitral district. It lies in the foothills of the Hindukush Mountain range, at the distance of about a half hours’ drive from the town of Chitral. The important buffer zones are Kuju Gol/Paran and Gohtan Gol; the former is the project site of the ISLT/WWF-Pakistan’s Snow Leopard Conservation Project.

Snow Leopards have regularly been sighted in Toshi Game Reserve in the buffer zone of Kuju and Parsan since 2001, mostly in winter i.e. from January to late February. Last year the BBC team was able to film two cats. The team came again to the Chitral this year hoping to have a glimpse of the elusive cat a second time.

On 27th January 2006, the sighting of a female Snow Leopard in the vicinity of Kuju, a project site of the snow leopard conservation project of ISLT, was reported by the wildlife official. Meanwhile, I contacted my friend Mr. Shujaat, resident of Balach Chitral, to provide his video and still camera. He was not only willing to provide the camera but also got ready to be part of the team. His volunteerism was indeed appreciable. As it was late to visit the spot that day, it was decided that the team would visit the area next day.

Before going to the proceedings, here I will share the behavior of Snow leopard as its occurrence in the aforesaid area is concerned.  According to locals, wildlife watchers and the studies so far conducted, the cat enters in the buffer zone (Kuju) when the cubs are able to move with their mother in late August. From August to November the depredation of livestock in the periphery of Kuju and Parsan is common and a mother with one of two cubs has frequently been sighted during this period. Perhaps this period is the training session for the cubs, as the livestock, which mostly consists of goats, are much easier to hunt than natural prey. Also, secondary food is readily available as the livestock move to the summer pastures during this period. In November 2005, an adult Snow Leopard with a cub entered a corral of Mr. Azam of Sin (near Kuju) and damaged 14 goats and injured 10. The same thing happened in Bokhtoli in December 2005.   

On January 28, we reached in the Toshi in the buffer zone of Kuju in the morning and were happy to see that Mr. Mark, a BBC filmmaker, had focused his camera to a ridgeline. He saw me and very carefully showed the exact spot through pointing his finger. After a short discussion with my team, selected a suitable place and mounted the movie camera on the spotting scope.  The Sow Leopard was resting on a big boulder. We stayed there till late evening. 

The next day we went early in the morning and stayed until evening, but the cat wasn’t there. On the third day there was no sighting until afternoon. We were on the ridgeline opposite to the Game Reserve. It had been raining slowly since morning and the day was getting colder and colder. How ever, Mr. Siraj Khan, our efficient cook, was making coffee at regular intervals to help us cope with the cold. While talking to a local wildlife watcher, it was revealed that a Snow Leopard den is locating near the site. I was eager to go there but the watcher said that the particular place is inaccessible, and in the current situation the area would be slippery as well. However, at last I was able to motivate him and we started trekking towards that place. When we reached the area, it was confirmed that the cat has rested on numerous occasions in this place. Feces were seen in the cave and the surrounding area was covered by broken rocks and boulders.  Some of the feces were very fresh, indicating the cat has recently spent few nights there.

Early in the evening, a Snow Leopard appeared on the ridgeline. She was slowly moving downwards to get into position for the prey. But before she got into position, one of the wild goats saw her and ran in opposite direction. Thus the snowy again missed the hunt and had to spend another night with empty stomach.

On 31st January, we decided to go early to the area and reached it at about 6:45 am. The Snow Leopard had changed hunting zones and was seen on another ridge situated at the gateway of the Game Reserve at the distance of about one and half kilometers from the previous place. Mark, a filmmaker of private channel, hadn’t arrived yet, so we sent a message to him via a watcher and within ten minutes he reached us. All of us were confident that the cat would now hunt, as the Markhors were browsing in her range. However, the cat mounted on a boulder and slept. After an hour or so, the snow leopard again woke up and moved behind the rock. Now she was no longer visible from our current position; therefore, we had to change our place and we climbed onto another mountain. Having fixed the spotting scope, we saw the cat sleeping near prey which she already had just killed, shattering our expectations.

She slept till 2:25 pm and during this period we were continuously observing her, as it is very difficult to spot a snow leopard once the binoculars are dropped, due to its superb camouflage with the surroundings. Then, she woke up and stretched, moved a little, gazed up and came back to eat the remaining portion of her kill. She ate for about two hours and again went to sleep until evening.

The next day, the cat was sighted about five hundred meters uphill from the place where she had hunted the previous day. At about 4:30 pm when the Markhors came closer to her, she came down and waited for them to come into her range underneath a big boulder. However, before her attack, a yearling saw her and communicated the message to its colleagues. Thus, within no time all the Markhors (about 16) were out of her range of attack. This scene was visible to the naked eye; therefore, hundreds of people, including many local residents, conservationists and tourists, enjoyed these thrilling scenes from the roadside.

On 15th February, we had the last glimpse of the cat. She moved slowly on the ridgeline, stayed there for a while, and then disappeared. My wish to make a movie and snap some pictures of the elusive cat had been fulfilled.


Jaffar Ud Din
Snow Leopard Field Biologist

WWF-Pakistan, Chitral


Source:  WWF Mongolia Environmental News

By Yo.Onon, species officer

14 March 2006, 13:20PM, Khovd aimag:
Informant called Irves-3 Mobile anti-poaching
unit (MAPU) that a man is driving to Bayan-Ulgii
aimag with Snow leopard skins in the truck.
In consequence with it Mr. Sh.Gantulga, leader
of the MAPU, Mr. Shagdarsuren, major of the
Khovd police office lied in wait for them nearby
Buaynt river bridge. As a result of checking
several trucks, a brown russian jeep from
Bayan-Ulgii aimag has been revealed with four
snow leopard skins.
According to J. Jarhyn, accused man, he was
going to sell the skins in Bayan-Ulgii aimag and
he bought 3 pieces of raw skins from Gobi-Altai
aimag, and another one, processed by hand
from Khovd aimag.
Irves-3 MAPU and partners are going for
patrolling to Must, Altai, Uench sums and Gobi-
Altai aimag, according to testimony of the
During the last few years, it has been revealed,
that Kazakh people sells snow leopard skins to
Kazakhstan and Altai respublic from Bayan-Ulgii
aimag, and that there is an illegal trade network
has been established and widen up.
For instance, in 2004 two Kazakh people
(Mongolia) were revealed for selling 17 snow
leopard skins to Altai republic, which were
passed out of border post (Altai Respublic web).
From the survey document of the Irves-1 MAPU,
collected from the market informant, there are
5-7 snow leopard skins sold in Bayan-Ulgii aimag
market per year. Despite this information, it is
has been also resolved that there is person, who
was processing the skin by hand.
The main reason of snow leopard skin
transboundary trade is that there is poor
customs and border check of weekly
International flight from Kazakhstan to Bayan-
Ulgii aimag, International border checking point
to Altai republic and one Kazakh language (both
Mongolian and Russian).

Tibetans burn wild animal skins in Tibet to encourage wildlife preservation

ICT, Friday, February 10, 2006 08:59
The Dalai Lama, who has long been concerned with the moral and economic implications of poaching endangered animals, spoke against the use of illegal animal furs at a ceremony in south India in January. Since then, Tibetans have been burning animal skins, thus decreasing demand for animal skins and driving down profits for smugglers. Many Tibetans have also chosen not to wear illegal fur garments during traditional festivals because “the Dalai Lama said he was ‘ashamed’ to see images of Tibetans decorating themselves with skins and furs” last month, and the belief that wearing fur contradicts Buddhism is becoming more widespread.
The Dalai Lama’s concern with conservation reaches far beyond his efforts within the last month. In April of last year, he teamed up with conservation organizations Care for the Wild International and the Wildlife Trust of India to prevent the smuggling of endangered animal furs into Tibet from Nepal and India. This problem has become increasingly worse in recent years with illegal leopard and tiger pelts readily available. Enforcement against the trade of animal products protected under CITES is difficult and has been largely neglected in Tibet, which makes the recent conservation efforts of the local population extremely important.
To read the full text of this story, see For more information from, see

Poacher Sansar Chand revealed Tibet, Nepal links: CBI

Belinda Wright, Executive Director
S-25 Panchsheel Park, New Delhi 110017, India

Monday February 6 2006 00:00 IST


On Friday, February 3, police in Delhi arrested Tibetan fur smuggler Neema Kampa, accomplice of the notorious poacher Sansar Chand. Chand was arrested in June, 2005, revealing that his illegal trade ring controls an estimated fifty percent of black market fur exports from India. Police even say every animal pelt that goes out of the country passes through the hands of his gang.


His influence spans beyond India; he has sold hundreds of leopard and tiger skins to international dealers, mostly from Nepal, that have passed through Tibet, making his trade network an international criminal activity. He allegedly accomplishes this by smuggling the skins in busses and as garments.


Chand’s Nepalese client and accomplice, Tashi Tshering (asias Chhewang), was arrested in December.


The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is in the process of obtaining permission to either question Tshering in Kathmandu or obtain his interrogation report.


Nature Conservation Foundation Receives 2006 Distinguished Service Award

Each year, the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB), the leading professional society for 
those seeking to conserve biological diversity and publisher of the internationally recognized 
journal Conservation Biology and the magazine Conservation In Practice, presents five 
Distinguished Service Awards to organizations and individuals who have made outstanding 
contributions to advancing the science and practice of conserving the Earth's biological 
diversity. The Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), the Snow Leopard Network’s 
partner in India, has been selected as a recipient of a 2006 Distinguished Service Award.
Only fifteen organizations have ever received this honor, and NCF is the only institution 
from India to ever have been selected. According to SCB, NCF was selected for “the 
extraordinary scientific rigor, focus and imagination its members have applied to affect 
sustainable conservation of a wide variety of habitats in India.”  
Although a relatively young organization, NCF has already greatly contributed to 
conservation efforts in India by capturing the attention of leading scientists, contributing 
to the region’s conservation workforce, and even discovering a new species. Congratulations
to NCF for receiving this well-deserved honor. 
For more information on the Distinguished Service Awards and a list of previous winners,