In order to strengthen our ongoing conservation efforts, the Snow Leopard Trust hosts environmental education seminars in the areas where we work. We provide our partner communities with information about their local ecology and the role that snow leopards play within it. Through these seminars, we are able to demonstrate the need to protect snow leopards and reinforce the importance of our conservation programs in their area.
When our programs are supported by education seminars, we help inform and encourage the long-term stewardship of snow leopard habitat areas. We provide a wide range of educational opportunities to both children and adults within three main categories.
During the summer months, we host experiential education camps for children 10-14 years of age. These three-day outdoor camps take place in lower altitude grasslands within snow leopard habitat. Camp activities focus on raising awareness about local biodiversity, landscapes, and the need for conservation.
Snow Leopard Trust staff immerse the children in exploration, discovery and team-building exercises. These activities help increase knowledge and understanding of local ecology and foster positive attitudes toward local wildlife. Schoolteachers are invited to attend and field staff from local state forest departments regularly visit.
Last year in India, over 350 children and 20 teachers participated in Snow Leopard Trust eco-camps, and we are currently developing plans to expand these programs into Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia.
Dozens of schools throughout key habitat areas are involved in snow leopard nature clubs each year. Students 10-14 years of age join these clubs during the school year in order to participate in ecologically focused activities. Under the supervision of their teachers, children hike through snow leopard habitat, host nature celebrations for other students, and participate in environmentally focused games and activities.
In India alone, these camps have reached more than 2000 children and 150 teachers in schools covering over 10,000 km2 of snow leopard habitat. We have participating schools in Pakistan and Mongolia and plans for expansion. During the 2011 World Challenge hosted by BBC, one lucky group was featured in a clip supporting Snow Leopard Trust conservation efforts.
Herder Education Programs
Conservation programs like Snow Leopard Enterprises, livestock vaccination and livestock insurance offer financial incentives to communities who protect the endangered snow leopard. By combining these programs with herder education, we help communities not only understand the role they play in their local ecosystem, but recognize the vital importance of their contribution to conservation.
Herder education programs are tailored to meet the specific needs of each community, and take many shapes. In Mongolia, we create a newsletter three times per year that shares developments in our conservation efforts with each participant. We have also created a detailed poster that provides herders with information on how to handle snow leopard predation on livestock in a way that discourages the cat in the future.
Providing education opportunities for herding families has proven to be invaluable in our efforts, and we look forward to expanding these education efforts into more program countries.