It is one of the defining questions of our time: how do we save species while improving the lives of the world’s poorest? One organisation in Central Asia may have a solution.
The India-based Snow Leopard Trust has pioneered an innovative model of conservation that works with numerous communities to protect the big cats in 12 countries, including India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
It has implemented, among other things, insurance programmes to compensate herders when they lose livestock to snow leopards – a move designed to reduce both pre-emptive and retaliatory killings.
The model has been hailed a success and this week its executive director, Dr Charudutt Mishra, won a Whitley Award, which celebrates solutions to the biodiversity crisis. The £100,000 prize will be used to export the model abroad. The Whitley Fund for Nature is a UK charity that, since 1993, has channelled £19 million ($23m) to 200 conservation leaders in 80 countries, benefiting wildlife, landscapes and people.
Other winning initiatives include projects to save red pandas, Sumatran rhinos and Brazil’s Araucaria forest. Danni Parks, director of the award, praised the winners for “addressing the interconnected crises of species extinction, climate change and social inequality”.