There is a lot of conservation work being done by these wildlife protection groups in the battle to help the snow leopard survive in the wild. The main groups are listed below. Contact them to give your support.
Snow Leopard Trust, Seattle, Washington.
The Trust is the largest and oldest organization working solely to protect the endangered Snow Leopard. It was founded in 1981 by Helen Freeman (1932-2007) who worked as a volunteer with snow leopards at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. She became fascinated with the cats and was motivated to set up the Trust to protect the snow leopard in the wild and its habitat. (See more on Helen below).
Snow Leopard Conservancy, California. Founded by Rodney Jackson and Darla Hillard who have been working with snow leopards since the early 1980’s . The aim of the Conservancy is “Promoting community-based stewardship of the endangered snow leopard, its prey and habitat.”
See the book about their early ground breaking snow leopard tracking and radio collaring work in Nepal. “Vanishing Tracks” by Darla Hillard.
The Snow Leopard Network The Snow Leopard Network (SLN), is a collaborative network of organisations and government agencies from all over the globe working on snow leopard conservation. It began in 2002 at the Snow Leopard Survival Summit in Seattle, Washington, USA as a means for snow leopard conservationists to co-operate on research and to address the challenges impacting the snow leopard’s survival while ensuring the livelihood opportunities of local people in snow leopard regions. The SLN produced the Snow Leopard Survival Strategy (SLSS), a report which presents a co-ordinated strategy for ensuring the endangered cat’s survival in all 12 range countries.
Helen Freeman, founder of the Snow Leopard Trust
Helen Freeman (1932-2007) single-handedly set up the Snow Leopard Trust in 1981 after becoming fascinated with the endangered animals at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. As her early education had been in business she started as a Zoo volunteer and in 1972 fell in love with two snow leopards from the Soviet Union, named Nicholas and Alexandra.
She spent so many hours with both cats watching especially Alexandra who had been badly injured and was in pain and reacting (naturally) very agressively to all humans near her cage. As Freeman admits, the Zoo staff knew next to nothing about snow leopards and assumed that they were just like other other common leopards which they had more experience with over a long time.
Freeman became so engrossed and concerned about the snow leopards that later, with her adult children at university, she herself returned to study zoology and became curator of education at the Zoo in the early 1980s.
Her work lead to extensive behavioral analysis to help other Zoos understand snow leopards as well as to very successful zoo breeding programs. She was committed to breeding so that there would never ever again be justification for taking cats from the wild.
But as she herself says in her book “Life, laughter and the pursuit of snow leopards” “what I had expected to be a short term study of two snow leopards had turned into a lifetime commitment. I went from watching Nicholas and Alexandra in a zoo to searching what could be done to help the species in the wild.”
She travelled extensively to the range countries including to the border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, to the mountains of India, Nepal and ‘polluted cities’ as she puts it, of China and Russia. Having had lifelong challenges with her respiratory health this travel must have taken an enormous toll. But an incredible quiet strength shines though. She says “having a chronic illness often means choosing between what you enjoy doing but is risky and doing what you “should” do. It’s not easy to stop thinking you feel rotten when you actually feel rotten. After all, your whole body is yelling at you to pay attention…. but real success lies in overcoming adversity.”
Reading Helen’s book you realise what a committed engaging person she was, not to mention strong and determined. But the book also shows a humorous side, a woman who laughs at herself for not enjoying going to the gym (who does, for heaven’s sake?) She says, “I find what they say about exercise is true. I do feel better. Especially now that its over.”
TRAFFIC is the major the wildlife trade monitoring network, working globally to stop trade in wild animals and plants. Based in Cambridge, UK, TRAFFIC actively collects rigorous research and up to date information on illegal trading of animals and plants from its many partners in the field.
They actively monitor and investigate the wildlife trade in many countries and provide information to many wildlife protection groups worldwide as a basis for effective conservation policies and programs. Working as a joint program of WWF (the conservation organisation) and IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature) TRAFFIC now has 25 offices worldwide. The Organisation is sponsored by charitable foundations, private and other donors.
NABU – The “Gruppa Bars” are an anti-poaching unit that was set up to save snow leopards in the Kyrgyz Republic 10 years ago with the help of funding from the German conservation agency NABU.
They have far-reaching powers and are equipped with weapons and have the power to arrest suspects and seize live animals, skins, weapons and other evidence. In the last decade they’ve captured 180 poachers and confiscated many snow leopard pelts as well as furs from other endangered animals. There is no doubt this team and the project supported by funding from NABU have made a huge difference in protecting snow leopard numbers in the country.
ASEAN WEN. Illegal trade in wildlife in Asia is estimated at over $10 billion dollars, second only to weapons and drug smuggling. This is a staggering and potentially depressing story.
But ASEAN nations have recently made major commitments at an ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (WEN) meeting to improve enforcement and also halt habitat depletion. A sad case is that tiger numbers in Asia have gone from over 100,000 to just 4,000 in the last 90 years.
WEN was formed in 2005 is the world’s largest wildlife law enforcement network that involves police, customs and environment agencies of all 10 ASEAN countries – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand.
For a full report on what the WEN meeting agreed to and the work of WEN see here.