A journey in conservation to the 2022 Whitley Gold Award

When Snow Leopard Trust Executive Director Dr. Charu Mishra began his conservation work in the late 1990s, the top-down practice of “fortress conservation” was the norm. Entire communities were evicted from territories to protect wildlife. (An estimated 130 million ‘conservation refugees’ have been displaced by conservation efforts worldwide.) In Charu’s view, fortress conservation is morally wrong.

Citizen/Ranger Rewards = Stronger Protection for Snow Leopards

In 2021, park rangers, environmental specialists and local citizens in Kyrgyzstan, intercepted poachers with pelts and bones of snow leopards and other species bound for illegal wildlife markets. Many mountain ungulates were also confiscated, most of which were illegally hunted for bushmeat. The illegal trade in endangered species is a significant threat to snow leopards and their wild prey. This success story reinforces how conservation partnerships can help ensure a future for snow leopards.

Finding a needle in a boundless haystack

Locating wild snow leopards isn’t easy. These threatened cats live across vast and often inaccessible mountain territory. Some individuals use home ranges that can be several hundred square kilometers large. These factors make it extremely challenging to find and monitor them. But we’ve learned never to underestimate the skill and expertise of our field teams!