Help Mongolia’s herdsmen and women in worst winter in decades

April 11, 2010

Men standing with livestock killed by extreme winter in Mongolia. Photo Sheila Zhao, GlobalPost

Mongolia has been going through a “dzud,” an extremely cold winter following a summer drought. According to the Mongolian government, an estimated 4.5 million animals have died across the country in the last few months, a huge blow to the herding community that makes up a large part of the population.

A nomadic herdswoman in remote part of Mongolia suffering worst winter cold and snow in decades. Photo by Sheila Zhao, GlobalPost

Record snowfalls and temperatures plummeted to minus 50 degrees Celsius (minus 59 Farenheit), making this the worst dzud in decades.

Herding communities depend on livestock for 90% of their income and officials worry an increase in crime, begging and prostitution may result, as desperate herding families, unable to find alternatives, seek to feed themselves and their families.

In the southern part of Mongolia, snow leopard region, the “dzud” may also encourage snow leopard poaching, despite recent years of successful community collaboration projects with organisations like the Snow Leopard Trust, protecting the endangered cats.

The government and UNICEF have appealed to the local and international community for urgent support to reach the herders with fodder, fuel, medicines, food and warm clothing.

Rana Flowers, UNICEF Representative in Mongolia said recently,  “The UN is acutely aware of the need to reach increasingly isolated populations with fuel and medicines, to get those in need out to trained medical care and to provide hygiene kits to stem the spread of disease, to ensure safe delivery and newborn care and to prevent the deepening of chronic malnutrition in this country.”

UNICEF says it faces a critical need for an additional USD 400,000 for medical supplies, equipment, micronutrients, and hygiene interventions as well as $322,000 to reach the growing number of affected communities with other life saving interventions.

The Snow Leopard Trust (SLT) has established a relief fund to help families through this crisis. An SLT partner, the Snow Leopard Trust UK, is giving $12,000 raised by Snow Leopard Vodka for aid like hay for remaining livestock. ‘Good on you’ to the folks at Snow Leopard Vodka!

If you’d like to support this effort to help the herding communities of Mongolia at this critical time you can do so through the Snow Leopard Trust here.


Tracking snow leopards over 60km in Mongolia

March 23, 2010

Map showing Snow Leopard Trust Mongolia camp and movement of some of the collared cats. This is the most successful project ever to collar cats and research their behavior and movement over lengthy periods of time. Follow the adventures of the team and the cats on the SLT Blog. Map from SLT Blog.

This project is making snow leopard research history, no doubt about it. The Snow Leopard Trust continues to gather huge amounts of data with a new male cat collared in Mongolia on February 16th. The snow leopard, called M7 by the Trust team, has covered rugged terrain across mountains and made a kill. The team are having world breaking success in this project,  having collared 7 cats in total now and following them with the GPS collars for over a year.

Read more of the team’s adventures and follow in the footsteps of the collared snow leopards in the stark and remote south Gobi area of Mongolia on the  Snow Leopard Trust Blog.

Meet all the collared cats and read about their foibles and their movements on the Trust’s Blog here.

Indian kids camping out in tents and learning about their mountain environment

February 21, 2010

Kids in Spiti, northern India, learning about their Himalayan environment with Snow Leopard Trust and Nature Conservation Foundation India program. Photo Snow Leopard Trust Blog.

Every year the Snow Leopard Trust and the Nature Conservation Foundation India take high school kids on learning camps in the Spiti Valley of the Himalayas. The kids, who rarely do this sort of thing, get to live in tents and learn about the plants and animals (including snow leopards), which share their environment. The Trust has been doing this since 2007 and over 400 school children and 30 teachers have participated.

Read more about their experiences and comments from the kids on the Snow Leopard Trust blog.

Spot the snow leopard!

February 1, 2010

Snow leopard camouflage. Photo by Kim Murray, Snow Leopard Trust.

We all know snow leopards have fabulous camouflage with their gray, white and yellowish fur and the spotty rosettes. But this really proves it. Kim Murray, the Snow Leopard Trust’s Assistant Director of Science took these photos and showed them to some school kids and asked where the snow leopard was hiding. They couldn’t find it, neither could I. (I squinted for over ten minutes at my computer screen).

Here it is!

Snow leopard revealed! Photo by Kim Murray, Snow Leopard Trust. Kim's working on the SLT's 10 year research project in the South Gobi, Mongolia.

what to do if you see illegal snow leopard fur etc for sale

December 4, 2009

The Snow Leopard Trust blog has just posted some really good information on what people can do if they see anyone trying to sell snow leopard furs etc. It may happen that you see this in your travels or even in your travels around the internet. It can be confusing but check these really useful guidelines from the SLT here.

Christmas? have a look at lovely gift ideas from snow leopard country

November 18, 2009
Oruktam slippers from Snow Leopard Trust shop.

Very cute and comfy Oruktam slippers from Snow Leopard Trust shop. These and more beautiful items makes lovely Christmas presents.

It’s that time of year again and I’d like to remind you all that the Snow Leopard Trust shop has a wonderful collection of crafts made by people in Mongolia through the Snow Leopard Enterprise program.  I mention this at least a few times a year so bear with me if you know about it already:-)

This is so worthwhile…you get a lovely gift, either for yourself or to give a loved one, the people who made the item get financial support and the snow leopards that live in the remote mountains are supported by the villagers and the herding communities…talk about the old win/win!

As for me, I’ve got my eye on these gorgeous Oruktan slippers – aren’t they cute? Check out the SLT Shop here.

More collaring success in Mongolia

May 28, 2009
SLT Mongolia project team in yurt

SLT Mongolia project team in yurt. Photo Snow Leopard Trust

Read the adventures of “Cookie guy”, also known as Orjan, a Swedish researcher working on radio collaring snow leopards in Mongolia. The locals like laughing at Orjan but he’s sure good at collaring wild snow leopards and collecting huge amounts of field data for the Snow Leopard Trust, an important wildlife protection group.
Over the last 12 months he and a local team have successfully collared 6 snow leopards in southern Mongolia. With GPS collars they’ve already learnt that the area the cats cover is over 1000 square km and covers more villages than previously thought. Important information because it turns out there are far more villages sharing the snow leopards’ habitat than the researchers knew. These are villages not taking part in the Snow Leopard Enterprise project and therefore still not supported financially if a snow leopard kills their livestock.  Read about Orjan’s continuing work here.