Livestock Insurance Schemes Protect Snow Leopards & Families

Livestock insurance programs are a last-resort safeguard to ensure the financial viability of family-based herding in Pakistan. This program is just one facet in an array of conservation efforts that seeks to balance the needs of pastoral communities and snow leopards that share the same mountain habitat.

For herder families living in snow leopard habitat, the health and well being of their livestock is inseparable from their livelihood and economic success. A snow leopard attack on their livestock has the potential to devastate this livelihood, and a single attack can result in the loss of up to 25 domesticated animals. For a single family, this loss is nearly impossible to recover from. 

Snow leopards prefer wild prey but will occasionally take down livestock when presented with the opportunity. Photo by SLF Pakistan/ Snow Leopard Trust

To help with this hardship and reduce the intensity of human-carnivore conflict, our partner organization Snow Leopard Foundation (SLF) Pakistan initiated livestock depredation relief programs. SLF’s Livestock Insurance Scheme has been critical in removing the burden of a snow leopard attack off individual herding families by providing a community-based and collectively-funded safety net.

Many families who live in snow leopard habitat depend entirely on their herds of livestock for food and wealth. Photo by SLF Pakistan/ Snow Leopard Trust

The insurance scheme is initially funded through seed grants and then bolstered by regular insurance premiums paid by participating herding families. This approach allows poorer communities to jumpstart the insurance program, while also giving opportunity for individual ownership. The model also grants every family a stake in the program and empowers communities to take a leading role in snow leopard conservation. 

Through the livestock insurance program, local communities manage insurance pools designated to reimburse families who lose domestic animals to snow leopard predation. Photo by SLF Pakistan/ Snow Leopard Trust

While this insurance scheme might seem to solely focus on herding communities and families, it is just as beneficial to snow leopards! The program not only acts as a safety net for families, but also acts as a safeguard against retaliatory snow leopard poaching. When herder communities can be assured that any livestock loss will be compensated for, there is little to no incentive to attempt these retaliations. And at a time when it is more crucial than ever to limit the contact between wildlife and humans, every human-snow leopard encounter prevented is a success story.

To learn more about SLF Pakistan’s community-based conservation programs, listen to the latest Snow Leopard Live Chat featuring Director of SLF, Dr. Ali Nawaz.

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