Christmas is just around the corner and in this festive season of giving and goodwill, I’d like to draw your attention to one of the causes I support, the Snow Leopard Trust.
The Snow Leopard Trust was founded in 1981 by the late Helen Freeman with the aim of protecting the endangered snow leopard (Uncia uncia, 雪豹 in Chinese) by educating local communities of the importance of wildlife conservation and providing job opportunities for low-income families in Central Asia through its Snow Leopard Enterprises program. The Trust has established conservation programs in five of the twelve countries were snow leopards are found and has staff based in China (which is home to up to half of the world’s snow leopard population), India, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Mongolia.
The greatest threats to snow leopards in China are poaching, retribution killing for livestock loss, and habitat loss caused through mining and construction, but with the help of Chinese wildlife organizations, such as the Beijing-based Shan Shui Conservation Centre (山水自然保护中心) and the Xinjiang Conservation Fund (新疆自然保育基金), steps are being taken to research and protect these beautiful animals and their natural habitat. Last year, at least 5 snow leopards were identified by the Trust’s 54 research cameras in China and there were no reports of a snow leopard being killed in any of the Trust’s partner communities in China or elsewhere.
EDIT: In their Winter 2012 Snow Leopard Tracks newsletter, the Trust reported that their partner organization in China, the Shan Shui Conservation Centre, has detected around 40 snow leopards living in and/or moving through a valley in the Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve (三江源国家级自然保护区) in Qinghai Province (青海省).
For interesting cat facts or information on the Trust’s community-based conservation projects and research tools, please visit the Snow Leopard Trust website. If you’d like to get involved, you can find information on what you can do to help give these incredible big cats a brighter future on the Trust’s Volunteer page. Alternatively, you can help raise money for the Trust’s research and community projects by making a donation, adopting a snow leopard, or buying something from their online shop.
You can stay up to date on all the latest snow leopard news and developments by following the Snow Leopard Trust on Twitter (@snowleopards) or Facebook, by signing up for their Enews updates, or by visiting their blog.