Hemiya is a small hamlet on the banks of the Indus river. The valley is narrow here, and steep rock cliffs tower over the collection of small, modest family homes and fields on all sides.
A few years ago, our team was able to help the livestock owners of Hemiya build predator-proof corrals to fend off snow leopard attacks. Now, the community is taking the next step in our conservation partnership: They are establishing a grazing-free reserve for wild ungulates to graze in, and are taking steps to join our livestock insurance program.
Our local field team – project associate Stanzin Namgail, field coordinator Karma Sonam, and field assistant Rigzen Dorjay, have long cultivated a strong relationship with the community of Hemiya, On a recent trip to the village, they were joined by Snow Leopard Trust Science & Conservation Director Dr. Charu Mishra, and PhD student Saloni Bhatia, who is working on a research project in the area.
During their visit, the villagers got together to appoint a local guard for the grazing-free reserve. The next day, they all headed out to the new reserve, in Argay valley. Despite heavy snow, they managed to scale the terrain and spot about eight blue sheep and two red foxes.
After the visit to the reserve, the team met with more than 40 villagers to discuss the prospect of them joining the livestock insurance program. The community members expressed a very strong interest, and have started discussions about premiums and other technical details.
“It’s great to see our partnership with the community of Hemiya grow”, says Charu Mishra. “Starting a livestock insurance program takes a lot of mutual trust. For herders, it’s an investment into their future as well as that of the snow leopard. I’m very happy that our local team was able to build such a strong relationship with this community.”