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.

Mongolia winter kills herds, devastating the poorest

28 Mar 2010 21:00:18 GMT

By Tyra Dempster

BEIJING, March 29 (Reuters) – A severe winter has left 4.5 million dead animals in stockyards across the Mongolian steppes, and many poor herders face the loss of all their property just before the important breeding season.

About a tenth of Mongolia’s livestock may have perished, as deep snows cut off access to grazing and fodder.

The damage to the rural economy could increase demands on Mongolia’s already-stretched national budget, which relies on mining revenues to meet spending commitments.

The Red Cross launched an emergency appeal for 1 million Swiss francs to assist Mongolian herders, after it estimated that 4.5 million livestock have died in the country since December.

“The numbers of livestock that have perished have gone up very, very quickly and dramatically now to about 4 million which is roughly a tenth of the whole livestock population,” Francis Markus, communications director for the Red Cross’ East Asia delegation, said in Beijing after returning from Mongolia.

“This means that thousands of families, mostly coming from the poorest and most vulnerable layers of the herder population, have lost their entire flocks of animals and have been left in a very, very distraught and very, very desperate state.”

Roughly one-quarter of Mongolia’s 3 million people are nomads, while others also raise livestock in fixed settlements. Many go deeply in debt to buy and raise their herds, in hopes of making the money back by selling wool, meat and skins.

A similar combination of a summer drought, followed by heavy snow and low winter temperatures, which is known in Mongolian as a ‘zud’, caused widespread hardship in Mongolia a decade ago.

As a result, impoverished herder families flocked to the slums outside the capital, Ulan Bator, straining the city’s ability to provide basic services.

“The herding community’s situation is very hard now. The best off are those who still have around 40 percent of their livestock left and in the worst 50 cases are those who have lost absolutely everything,” said Zevgee, speaker of the county parliament in Bayangol, southwest of the capital.

This zud was the worst for several years, with temperatures dropping to 40 degrees Celsius below zero or colder in 19 of Mongolia’s 21 provinces, according to a World Bank report.

Around 63 percent of Mongolia’s rural residents’ assets are their livestock, it said, and at least 35 percent of the population earn a living from their animals.

Herder Tsendjav said that she had no option but to rely on the government and aid to survive the weather.

“I have seen many zuds that have caused the loss of numerous animals but I have never seen a zud as bad as this one,” she said at a Red Cross aid dispensary.

(Writing by Lucy Hornby; Editing by Sugita Katyal)