Community-based ecotourism in Ladakh promotes positive perceptions of snow leopards

11 March 2019

Mongabay

Snow leopards in Ladakh often used to be persecuted by local communities because they preyed on livestock.

With the establishment of the Himalayan Homestay Program, a community-based ecotourism initiative, snow leopards are now seen as valuable and communities are more supportive of their conservation.

To maintain positive perceptions of snow leopards when tourism declines, the Snow Leopard Conservancy-India Trust is educating communities about the intrinsic and ecological values of the snow leopard in combination with other measures.

Catching a glimpse of the famed, elusive snow leopard while trekking the rugged and remote mountains of Ladakh may be a dream come true for wildlife seekers. However, these predators have had a bad rap among local villagers, many of whom often regarded them as pests, because of their tendency to prey on livestock—sometimes killing many in a single incident. As a result, some local livestock herders resorted to retaliatory killings of these cats.

But the perception of snow leopards appear to be changing towards a more positive light, thanks to the establishment of an innovative Himalayan Homestays ecotourism program in the region, reports a new interview-based study. While the program has helped change attitudes, the researchers suggest educating communities on the ecological importance of snow leopards to instill greater value for this keystone species.

Read the full article here...

 

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