Fewer than 4500 snow leopards are believed to be left in Asia. To protect them Charudutt Mishra, founder of the Nature Conservation Foundation in India, set up a simple insurance scheme among communities whose livestock were being preyed on by snow leopards to reduce the number of cats being killed in retaliation. Since the scheme began, no leopards have been killed by hunters. To tackle the lack of prey for the snow leopard Charudutt has negotiated agreements to keep domestic livestock away from fragile pastures. Since the start in 1998, the reserve size has grown from 500 hectares to more than 5.000 hectares and the number of bharal, wild sheep, that are the main prey for snow leopards, has grown tremendously.
Charudutt Mishra is co-founder of the Nature Conservation Foundation, an NGO established in 1996 to promote science-based wildlife conservation in India. He serves as Director of the Snow Leopard Trust, an international organization involved in snow leopard conservation across Asia.
Vision and Approach
Currently, fewer than 4500 snow leopards are believed to be left in Asia. Conflicts over livestock predation by snow leopards, increasing poaching and illegal wildlife trade, and huge investments in mining, infrastructure, and unsustainable economic development in Asia’s mountains threatens snow leopards. Charu has set up solutions for conflict management together with local communities – community-managed livestock insurance programmes, village-managed wildlife reserves, and other livelihood strengthening conservation initiatives. Local communities partnering with Charu’s teams are themselves protecting snow leopards over an area of more than 110000 sq km in five countries. Charu has been closely involved in initiating and supporting the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program, which is a high level inter-governmental alliance and cooperation of all 12 Asian countries that have snow leopards in the wild.
“Snow leopards need friends. We have seen through our work that local communities will partner in snow leopard conservation, as long as they are approached with respect and empathy. Our next challenge is to work with businesses, industry, and governments to change the course and colour of economic development in Asia’s mountains. Green and inclusive development are the need and the future.”Charudutt Mishra
Impact of the Future For Nature Award
- India’s national policy and action plan called Project Snow Leopard was created with support of Charu and his colleagues.
- The high altitude programme of the Nature Conservation Foundation founded by Charu has grown to become one of the model research-based conservation programmes, and is one of the most significant contributors to research on snow leopards in India.
- Charu’s experience in community-based conservation has been summarized into a set of principles (called the PARTNERS Principles) in a book, which have been used to create a training programme for community-based conservation.
"This is another good example of how conservation should be approached, going about attaining his goal in the right way. He is saving the Himalayas through his target species. He is dealing with local people. He has inspired many followers, and he will go on."Mr. John MacKinnon, International Selection Commitee