The Snow Leopard is a threatened species in Pakistan. This seen so little feline population decreased to less than 450 copies throughout the country, mainly due to hunting. An expert made an unconventional proposal- and controversial- to save the Snow Leopard: classify it as a domesticated animal.
That does not mean that the snow leopards are literally tame, like a chicken, Shafqat Hussain explained, a browser of National Geographic stated during the Symposium of explorers of the Organization held in Washington in June: "When I say that snow leopards are like house cats, I say it rhetorically to contrast with the word wild”.
The idea comes from the changing relationship between the Leopard and the man. When the cats remain in the Himalayas, increasingly they share their habitat with the mountain shepherds. In 2010 a study of Snow Leopard droppings was made and was determined that until the 70 percent of the diet of this species in the province of Gilgit Baltistan was based on sheep, cattle and other domestic animals. Some pastors hunt snow leopards in retaliation for the killing of livestock.
Given the diet of snow leopards, are they really wild animals in our sense of the term wild?: It develops without direct human intervention, has no connection with the society? "Clearly not", in the opinion of Hussain.
Then the way of contributing to the survival of the Leopard - says Hussain- is not to create protected areas that isolate them from local communities. This solution tends to affect farmers that, as a result, they lose areas of cultivation. Hussain suggested support local pastors so that they can develop their activity despite the incursions of the snow leopards.
And that is exactly what has been doing for more than one decade. In 1999 Hussain founded the Leopard project de las Nieves, with which it is intended to compensate the inhabitants of the countries where the snow leopard lives if their cattle are attacked by these.
There are several branches of this successful project, directed jointly by the project managers and a Committee of villagers, that already comes to 400 households and covers to 3.000 animals in central Asia.
Since 1998, It has been paid 7.000 dollars in compensation for dead animals, and it has invested 13.000 dollars to improve the pens of livestock and other infrastructure. In both, Snow Leopard populations appear to remain stable, according to hussain.
Not all agree. In fact, Hussain ideas are not completely accepted among conservation groups.
Tom McCarthy, Executive Director of the Snow Leopard program of the conservation of big cats Panthera group, He said he did not know of "not a single non-governmental organization that works with leopards today that supports the establishment of reserves for the cats at the expense of local inhabitants.".
These may include, until Hussain founded the Leopard project de las Nieves, McCarthy and his colleagues founded Snow Leopard Enterprises, an award-winning project that helps generate income for people in countries where snow leopards live.
Biologist conservationist and expert on Jerry Roe snow leopards also stated that category to the Snow Leopard as domestic will neither resolve the conflict between pastoralists and the animal nor will benefit the species.
A change in the definition will not let the shepherds see Snow Leopard as a species pest, according to roe, co-founder of Nomad Ecology, a consulting firm specializing in ecology.
Hussain believes that the objections are not valid. The people of the place- at least in Pakistan- “has no atavistic enmity with leopards nor an impulse to kill them. If compensates them for their losses, they are not interested in delete this animal”.
It is the case of Mohammed Ibrahim, President of the Organization Skoyo Krabathan Basingo of Pakistan, that is also the owner of 15 goats. Ibrahim said to not be worried about the snow leopards, mainly because there are insurance as the of the project Leopard de las Nieves which compensates herders if they lose animals.
- Images of the Snow Leopard