Snow leopard in Pakistan
There are an estimated 250-400 snow leopards in Pakistan, across an area of 80,000km2. As in the rest of their range, they are threatened by retaliatory killing due to livestock depredation, hunting for the cats’ valuable pelt and for traditional Chinese medicine, and depletion of the main prey (ibex and marmot).
Snow Leopard of Pakistan – Beyond the Myth Nisar Malik, a Pakistani journalist along with cameraman Mark Smith, spent 18 months following this most enigmatic of animals. Thus eventually gaining valuable insights into the day to day life of the snow leopards. Set in the wilds of the Hindu Kush, this film profiles a much misunderstood part of the world, going beyond the myth to tell the snow leopard’s real story.
Pakistan’s Northern Areas provide over 80% of the country’s available habitat for snow leopards. Recent studies suggest the population here might be as high as 400 animals, or as low as 250. Here, as elsewhere, the main threats come from retaliatory killing due to livestock depredation, illegal hunting for the cats’ valuable pelt, bones and body parts for traditional Chinese medicine (traded across the border into China), and depletion of the main prey, ibex and marmot.
Innovative conservation project in Pakistan sees a slow but sure rise in the number of the endangered big cats
In 1999, Hussain started an innovative insurance programme in two Baltistan villages, named Project Snow Leopard, with funding from the Royal Geographical Society and the U.S.-based Snow Leopard Conservancy.
“I’m not totally indifferent to the loss the local community bears at the loss of their goats,” Hussain told IPS in a telephone interview during his annual visit to Skardu – the capital town of Baltistan, a northern Pakistani region bordering Xinjiang, China.
Project Snow Leopard (PSL) is an innovative partnership between the community and private enterprise that provides a livestock insurance program to compensate local farmers for losses caused by snow leopards. PSL was founded in 1999 by Shafqat Hussain. Hussain’s ecotourism company, Full Moon Night Trekking, provides financial support to subsidize the insurance program. Farmers help finance the insurance plan through payment of premiums for each head of livestock owned, with the balance of funds accruing from profits of snow leopard trekking tours and expeditions.