Charudutt Mishra is the Director and founder of the Nature Conservation Foundation, an NGO established in 1996 to promote science-based wildlife conservation in India. He has been working in villages at high altitude in the Himalayas, just south of Ladakh, to address the twin problems of declining wild prey and human incursion which are threatening the snow leopard. There are currently fewer than 1,000 snow leopards left in India.
He is leading a programme aimed at securing the future of high altitude Himalayan wildlife by integrating indigenous communities with conservation efforts. Charudutt is working directly with local people on conservation and conflict resolution initiatives, and has 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 snow leopards have been killed by hunters. He has also negotiated conservation agreements to keep domestic livestock out of some areas, which has led to a recovery in the wild prey of the snow leopard.
The endangered snow leopard is involved in conflict with people across its mountainous range in South and Central Asia, where keeping sheep or cattle is the predominant land use, and it is widely persecuted in retaliation. Livestock predation by large carnivores and their retaliatory persecution by pastoralists are worldwide conservation concerns. Poor understanding of the ecological and social underpinnings of such human-wildlife conflicts hamper effective conflict management programmes. Charudutt knows that changing attitudes mean conservation success for the snow leopard.