“It’s Time for a Paradigm Shift in Conservation”

The Snow Leopard Trust’s new book, ‘The PARTNERS Principles for Community-Based Conservation’, authored by Charudutt Mishra, is launched by President Atambayev of the Kyrgyz Republic. It’s a handbook for successfully engaging local communities in wildlife conservation.

Press release, 11/23/2016

Seattle – Snow leopards are being killed at alarming rates – the majority of them in retaliation killings by local people trying to protect their livestock. To reverse this trend and protect endangered species like the snow leopard, conservation needs a paradigm shift, argues Whitley Award winner Dr. Charu Mishra in his new book on Community-Based Conservation, introduced to the public by Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev.

partners-principles-for community-conservation-book-cover
The PARTNERS Principles for Community-Based Conservation distill two decades of experience engaging with local communities for conservation into a practical guidebook. Click on the image to download a PDF version of the book.

A recent report by TRAFFIC estimates that more than 450 snow leopards die each year at the hands of people – a majority in retaliation for livestock attacks. Poaching numbers for tigers, leopards, elephants and rhinos are equally alarming.

“Our planet is witnessing the sixth mass extinction of species right now. We are trying to tackle this crisis with the vocabulary, machinery, and logics of war – guns, fences, protected areas and top-down policies – and we’re unable to stop the bleeding”, Mishra says.

“It’s time for a paradigm shift in conservation. We’ll only be able to protect endangered species if we truly change our fundamental attitude towards people – the people who live in our last remaining natural areas, whose lives depend on these ecosystems, and who are most affected by policies and actions designed to protect biodiversity”, Mishra adds. “To conserve our natural ecosystems and species, we must gain the support of local people.”

With his colleagues at the Snow Leopard Trust, Mishra, the organization’s Science & Conservation Director, has pioneered community-led conservation programs in the mountains of Asia for more than two decades. They’ve helped herder communities start livestock insurance and vaccination programs, build predator-proof livestock corrals, set up community-managed wildlife reserves, and created sustainable income through the production and sale of handicrafts.

A herder in Mongolia stands in front of his new predator-proof corral fence, built in partnership with the Snow Leopard Trust
A herder in Mongolia stands in front of his new predator-proof corral fence, built in partnership with the Snow Leopard Trust. Programs to protect livestock are a key component of community-based conservation in snow leopard habitat. Photo by SLT

These initiatives are designed to improve local livelihoods and enhance tolerance for predators such as the snow leopard, while creating conditions that allow these species to thrive.

Now, Mishra and his colleagues have distilled those experiences into a book called ‘The PARTNERS Principles for Community-Based Conservation’, that has just been released. It’s a practical guide to engaging local communities in wildlife conservation

The book was published by the Snow Leopard Trust and supported by the Acacia Conservation Fund. It was launched recently by his excellency, President Almazbek Atambayev of the Kyrgyz Republic.

Charu Mishra (center) and Michael Despines (right) present a copy of the PARTNERS Principles to President Atambayev.
Charu Mishra (center) and Michael Despines (right) present a copy of the PARTNERS Principles to President Atambayev. Photo by the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic.

President Atambayev and the First Vice Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic Muhammetkaly Abulgazi had previously met with Dr. Mishra, the Snow Leopard Trust’s Executive Director, Michael Despines, and Snow Leopard Foundation Kyrgyzstan leader Kuban Jumabai uulu.

President Atambayev has been a leader and champion of snow leopard conservation for many years.

“Wildlife conservation must be planned and implemented in partnership with local people. It needs to go hand in hand with sustainable rural development initiatives”, said President Atambayev.

Rural communities who live alongside endangered species can be crucial conservation partners. Photo by SLT

Charu Mishra and his colleagues not only share this ethos; they have been putting it into action successfully for two decades.

While the governance and management of protected areas have been formalized worldwide, there were no clear-cut frameworks for community-based conservation, no universally accepted guidelines. The ‘PARTNERS Principles for Community-Based Conservation’ fills that void. The book should interest all who care about preserving the earth’s wild species and ecosystems – field practitioners, government officials and funding agencies alike.

“This book offers a refreshingly honest look at the successes, but also the doubts, problems, confusions and failures of community-based conservation, and is shows a willingness to face these shortcomings and dilemmas, to try and learn from them”, says Professor Steve Redpath of the University of Aberdeen, a leading scholar on community-based conservation.

Coexistence is a fact of live in snow leopard habitat. Partnering with local communities is the key to securing these cats’ future.

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More information

Almazbek Atambayev is the President of the Kyrgyz Republic. He has been a global leader in the protection of the endangered snow leopard for many years. In 2013, he initiated and hosted the 1st Global Forum on Snow Leopard Conservation in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital. This event resulted in the signing of the Bishkek Declaration, and the Global Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection Program, the first range-wide initiative to save this iconic cat.

Dr. Charudutt Mishra is the Science & Conservation Director of the Snow Leopard Trust and honorary Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Network. He co-founded India’s Nature Conservation Foundation. Working on the interface of conservation science and action in Asia’s high mountains, he has been involved in setting up community-based conservation programs, influencing policy and catalysing international cooperation for conservation. He has authored 75 research papers. He is recipient of prestigious international awards, including the Whitely Gold Award presented by HRH Princess Royal and Sir David Attenborough, the Golden Ark Award for tangible achievements in protecting wild animal and plant species, and India’s TN Khoshoo Memorial Award for outstanding contribution to the field of conservation and sustainable development.

The Snow Leopard Trust is the oldest and largest organization dedicated to conserving the endangered snow leopard and its high mountain ecosystem across Asia.


Matt Fiechter, Communications Manager, Snow Leopard Trust. matt@snowleopard.org

One Comment

  1. Snow leopards are magnificent creatures but their life must be difficult. They should be protected rather than hunted. Don’t think we are indifferent to what happens to them. If all of them are killed, it will be a great loss for everybody.

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