Freeman Award for Snow Leopard Conservation: Rinchen Wangchuk

Freeman Award for Snow Leopard Conservation

The Snow Leopard Trust is happy to announce that Rinchen Wangchuk has been selected as the recipient of the Freeman Award for Snow Leopard Conservation. The award established by the family of Helen Freeman to recognize leaders in snow leopard conservation comes with an honorarium of US$1,000.

Rinchen is currently the Director for the Snow Leopard Conservancy – India, based in Leh, Ladakh. Rinchen and his team work closely with livestock herding communities to predator-proof nighttime corrals, and train local people, especially women and young men, in ways of enhancing their income generation skills in activities closely linked with the conservation of snow leopards. At another level, he assists local non-government organizations build capacity for protecting India’s rich mountain biodiversity.

One of Rinchen’s greatest achievements has been his role in rural tourism initiatives that enabled launching the award-winning Himalayan Homestay program, a highly acclaimed UNESCO-sponsored project. SLC-India and its broadly-based snow leopard conservation program now operate as an independent organization, having started as a project of the Snow Leopard Conservancy – USA.

Rinchen’s commitment to working for the welfare of wildlife and rural people has grown out of his own Ladakhi village upbringing and his experiences as a skilled mountaineer and more recently, a nature tour guide. With fellow Indian climbers, he summited the 24,660-foot Saser Kangri II in Ladakh’s Nubra region. He received special training in community-based tourism from The Mountain Institute (Nepal) and RECROFT (Thailand). Rinchen also assisted researchers to develop the Earth watch program, “Land of the Snow Leopard.” He has served as a naturalist and assistant on several documentaries filmed in Hemis National Park, including the widely acclaimed “Silent Roar: Searching for the Snow Leopard.”

Please join us in congratulating Rinchen on this well deserved recognition for his years of service towards snow leopard conservation.