Effort to save snow leopard in Taplejung, Nepal

Added At: 2010-10-21 12:19 AM
The Himalayan Times
Himalayan News Service

TAPLEJUNG; Locals of Gunsa village in the district have started to train local yak and sheep herders on the conservation of the endangered snow leopard that is found in the Kanchanjangha Conservation Area.

“Shepherds spark wildfires, chop down trees and make noise, thus disturbing snow leopards habitats. Keeping this tendency in mind, we decided to train them on the importance of the rare species,” said Himali Chundak, chairman of the Snow Leopard Conservation Sub-Committee.

Chundak added that the training was intended to conserve snow leopards and attract more tourists in the conservation area during the Nepal Tourism Year-2011.

Dandu Sherpa, a local, said villagers train shepherds visiting their farms and even in forest areas. Consequently, the hostility against the snow leopards and encroachment on their habitat has reduced of late.

Sujit Kumar Shrestha, manager of the conservation area project, said villagers were actively involved in the conservation of the rare wildlife. “Recognising its contribution to wildlife conservation, the World Wildlife Fund has honoured the sub-committee with Abraham Conservation Award,” said Shrestha.

Snow leopard is an internationally protected wildlife species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Himalayan Snow Leopard Research Centre to be set up in Himachal Pradesh, India

Friday, June 18, 2010


Shimla: With an aim to boost research and conservation of snow Leopards in the country, Himachal Pradesh would soon set up an international level research centre in Spiti valley, a senior officer of state Forest department said today.

“Himalayan Snow Leopard Research Centre” would be set up in Spiti valley of tribal Lahaul & Spiti district under the scheme of integrated development of wild life, principal chief conservator of forest AK Gulati told PTI.

“The Rs5.50 crore project to be funded by Union ministry of forest and environment, would emphasis on research and training on conservation of snow Leopard”, Gulati added.

This would be the first comprehensive snow Leopard radio collaring centre in India, he said.

The centre would have a fully equipped field station laboratory with necessary instruments, he added.

Only Mongolia has such facility at present.

The HP has a population of 35 snow Leopards as per 2004 census out of which 23 is in Spiti valley itself, Gulati said.

Herders contribute to conservation in the Altai Mountains in Mongolia

20 May 2010

By Onno van den Heuvel, Environment and Energy Programme Officer

The Altai Mountains are home to a variety of endangered species such as the snow leopard and the world’s largest wild sheep altai argali. Inhabited mainly by nomads, these mountains – stretching from the Gobi Desert in the south to the Siberian Tundra in the north, and forming a border between Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and China – hold several biodiversity hotspots mostly located in remote areas with limited access.

In the Mongolian part of the Altai Mountains, herders still live a traditional nomadic lifestyle. They live in harsh conditions, with temperatures commonly below the freezing point for most of the year and basic services often not available within a 100km distance. Up to 1990, these herders depended on centralised planning system for their grazing patterns and steady income. In the 1990’s, a wave of liberalisation led to the removal of strict regulations which resulted in land degradation, unrestricted hunting and habitat loss.

To protect the biodiversity in the region, the Mongolian Ministry of Environment with the support of UNDP launched, in 2009, the Altai Sayan Ecoregion Project, which involves herders in conservation of the mountains.

Under the project, herders form community groups of 10 to 15 members. These groups develop community plans for emergencies and seek funds from grants. This better prepares the herders to respond to natural disasters, tackle bitter cold winters and improve their income.

The participating herders are, also, trained to identify and collect data on the endangered animals and plants in their area. Such monitoring has generated new information about the habitat areas and the population numbers of important species.

Having up to date information about herds of animals is important not only for the sake of their conservation, but also for the planning of hunting, which is a significant source of revenue in Mongolia.

The project also empowers the community groups by allowing them to register as the sole users of natural resources in their area. In return, the groups are expected to protect these resources and manage them according to the set rules and regulations. For instance, the groups ensure that hunting is only carried out in the permitted seasons so as not to deplete the animal stock.

Today, more than 45 communities, covering an area larger than 376,000 hectares, have registered as sole users of natural resources under the Altai Sayan Ecoregion Project. To guarantee that the system is not misused, state environmental inspectors are tasked to monitor all the registered community groups.

Lately, some communities have ventured into tourism, setting up gers – Mongolian nomadic house, and offering camel rides. Others have decided to focus on producing small handicraft products. The Project stands ready to support other interested communities, if they choose, to set up their own tourism services.


China and India called on by scientists to collaborate on conservation

Biodiversity knows no ‘national boundaries’ and nations must protect species from rising consumption, dams and industry

Jonathan Watts, Asia environment correspondent
guardian.co.uk (http://www.guardian.co.uk/), Thursday 18 March 2010 18.00 GMT

Mount Kanchenjunga in the Darjeeling mountains in the Himalayas, a particularly environmentally sensitive area. Photograph: Frederic Soltan/© Frederic Soltan/Corbis

China and India could together decide the future of the global environment, a team of senior scientists warn today in a call for closer collaboration on conservation by the world’s two most populous nations.

Writing in the journal Science, the eight coauthors — including zoologists from both nations — warn of the security and biodiversity threat posed by rising consumption, dam construction and industrial emissions.

The ecological footprint of the two fast-emerging Asian economies has already spread beyond their borders and with future economic growth rates likely to continue at 8% for several years, the experts say the pressure on borders, resources and biodiversity could reach dangerous levels.

“The degree to which China and India consume natural resources within their boundaries and beyond will largely determine future environmental, social and economic outcomes,” say the co-authors headed by Peter Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden.

The report notes that the two countries import 9m of crude oil a year and 64% of all the roundwood pine produced in Asia, adding to the problems of global deforestation and warming.

The impacts are becoming more obvious in the strategically sensitive Himalayan border area, where the authors say large numbers of troops are damaging the environment. Resources in the mountain region are so scarce, they note, that soldiers sometimes eat rare plants.

Melting glaciers that supply meltwater for half the world’s population and the constriction of rivers by hundreds of dams are also major problems, they say.

With the demand for energy in both nations growing, they predict a further rise in construction of hydroelectric plants and exploitation of other Himalayan resources, with alarming implications for regional security.

“The synergistic effects of decreasing water resources, loss of biodiversity, increased pollution and climate change may have negative social and economic consequences and, even worse, escalate conflicts within and between the two countries,” they warn.

Despite their growing global importance, China and India have conducted little joint research and engaged in only modest collaboration to mitigate the impact of their rapid development. There have been small signs of progress in recent years, including agreements to jointly monitor glaciers and study the interaction between the atmosphere and the ocean. But the authors say much more collaboration is necessary.

“More earnest cooperation between the world’s two most populous countries will be vital for mitigating biodiversity loss, global warming and deforestation,” the authors say.

They suggest turning disputed territory into trans-boundary protected areas, fostering scientific collaboration, working with the United Nations to manage natural resources and encouraging regional forums, such as Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), to focus more on the environment.

One of the authors — Zhang Yaping, the president of the Kunming Institute of Zoology — said it was rare for biodversity protection to span the two nations.

“We should certainly strengthen cooperation in this field,” he said. “China and India have done a lot of conservation work inside their own nations. What we need now is a joint effort. There should be no national boundaries in biodiversity protection.”

Next round in New Delhi: Gross National Happiness Seminar

GNH (Gross National Happiness) Seminar 14 March, 2010 – The first ever
seminar between Bhutan and India on GNH concluded on March 12, with
participants from both sides acknowledging the need for more discussion
and study for the development philosophy to be successfully implemented.

Dasho Karma Ura, the president for the centre for Bhutan studies (CBS),
said that the “rich dialogue” had “enriched” the understanding of GNH
for both Bhutanese and Indian participants. The seminar saw, what a CBS
press release described as, “influential minds in India” talking to
Bhutanese counterparts on various topics related to GNH. The Indian
delegation included young politicians, sociologists, environmentalists,
conservationists, and health activists.

“GNH offers potential that needs to be unlocked,” said Peter DeSouza,
director for the institute of advanced studies in India. He added that
GNH is relevant today, as it offered a framework within which the ideas
contained offered a counter discourse to the western development model.
“GNH shows how Bhutan thinks ahead of time, it’s an evolved state of
thinking, a brilliant concept,” said Koustubh Sharma (PhD), a regional
field biologist with snow leopard trust, the largest organisation
concerned with the conservation of the endangered snow leopard. He said
that India is now suffering the consequences of a fast paced development
policy based on the western model.

Koustubh Sharma said the dialogue on GNH showed that it did not exist to
hide Bhutan’s underdevelopment as skeptics might observe. But he added
that some aspects have to be addressed, such as ensuring minor details,
such as the needs of specific groups of people are not undermined, when
using only one value to express the people’s happiness and development.
“A pivotal issue is whether GNH offers an alternative framework for
evaluation of policy or a state imposed prescription,” said Akhil Sibal,
a lawyer. “I’m definitely convinced that GNH is really a more of a
useful prism through which to look at policy rather than a dogma to be
imposed.” He added, “It’s an ideal worth working towards, to apply not
only within Bhutan but abroad.”

“Ideas and ideologies keep evolving so it’s never sufficient, but for
now, yes,” said Latika Dikshit, a social development consultant on
whether the seminar had provided a thorough understanding of GNH. On
whether GNH is too Utopian, she said, “All dreams start off Utopian,
it’s the path that leads to it that has to be realistic.” Latika Dikshit
said she hoped she would be invited again for another dialogue on GNH.
Comments were also made that perhaps GNH needed to be modernised to
include younger generations.

Dasho Karma Ura said Bhutan could certainly do with more discourses on
GNH and that the dialogue would be continued in India in August this
year. He also added that more discussion on GNH is needed among
Bhutanese, particularly one that includes all three branches of the
government and private sector.

The seminar was jointly organised by CBS and Malvika Singh, the owner
and publisher of Seminar magazine in India.

By Gyalsten K Dorji


Legislation to Protect Big Cats Advances: The Great Cats and Rare Canids Act gets overwhelming approval in House of Representatives.

Posted: April 24, 2009, 3 a.m. EDT


Wildlife advocates are praising the recent passage of an act that seeks greater protections for endangered and iconic cat and dog species, including leopards, cheetahs and African wild dogs.

The Great Cats and Rare Canids Act, introduced by Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., garnered overwhelming approval by the House of Representatives on Tuesday, April 21. Passage of the act supports conservation programs, educational resources and increased monitoring and law-enforcement measures to prevent poaching and illegal trafficking.

The legislation would provide financial resources to restore populations of rare wild cat and canine species and protect their habitats. The bill was approved by a vote of 290-118.

The bill defines “rare felid” to: (1) mean any of the felid species lion, leopard, jaguar, snow leopard, clouded leopard, cheetah, Iberian lynx, and Borneo bay cat, including any subspecies or population of such a species; and (2) exclude any species, subspecies or population that is native to the United States and any tiger.

The act, HR 411, builds upon an existing program, the Multinational Species Conservation Fund, which provides funds to benefit tigers and other wild animals.

This new legislation expands that program to provide funds for additional wild cats, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

“Wild and rare cat and dog species are some of the most iconic animals on the planet,” said Dr. Sybille Klenzendorf, managing director of species conservation at World Wildlife Fund. “The bipartisan bill that passed the House will help ensure these majestic creatures continue to roam the wild for generations to come.”

Supporters said that the passage marks an important stride in the battle to save great cats from the loss of habitat and food sources. A vote in the Senate is pending.

Attention SLN Members: You can monitor the progress of this act by visiting the following website: