Protecting nature starts with awareness and understanding of its value.
The Snow Leopard Trust runs a series of environmental education programs for children and adults in the areas where we work. These programs strengthen ongoing conservation efforts and inspire future nature conservationists. Their focus lies on the values – both economic and socio-cultural – that intact ecosystems provide. The role of the snow leopard, and the benefits of protecting it, are particularly highlighted.
During the summer months, we host experiential education camps for children 10-14 years of age.These three-day outdoor camps take place in lower altitude grasslands within snow leopard habitat. Camp activities focus on raising awareness about local biodiversity, landscapes, and the need for conservation.
Snow Leopard Trust staff immerse the children in exploration, discovery and team-building exercises. These activities stimulate all five senses and help increase knowledge and understanding of local ecology and foster positive attitudes toward local wildlife.
Schoolteachers are invited to attend and field staff from local state forest departments regularly visit.
In India alone, these camps have reached more than 2000 children and 150 teachers in schools covering over 10,000 km2 of snow leopard habitat. In 2014, the idea began to spread, with our Mongolia team hosting their first camps. Kyrgyzstan is next, with a pilot planned for 2016.
Dozens of schools throughout key habitat areas are involved in snow leopard nature clubs each year. Students 10-14 years of age join these clubs during the school year in order to participate in ecologically focused activities.
Under the supervision of their teachers, children hike through snow leopard habitat, host nature celebrations for other students, and participate in environmentally focused games and activities.
During the 2011 World Challenge hosted by BBC, one lucky group was featured in a clip supporting Snow Leopard Trust conservation efforts.
Herder Education Programs
Conservation programs like Snow Leopard Enterprises, livestock vaccination and livestock insurance offer financial incentives to communities who protect the endangered snow leopard. By combining these programs with herder education, we help communities not only understand the role they play in their local ecosystem, but recognize the vital importance of their contribution to conservation.
Herder education programs are tailored to meet the specific needs of each community, and take many shapes. In Mongolia, we create a newsletter three times per year that shares developments in our conservation efforts with each participant.
We have also created a detailed poster that provides herders with information on how to handle snow leopard predation on livestock in a way that discourages the cat in the future.
Providing education opportunities for herding families has proven to be invaluable in our efforts, and we look forward to expanding these education efforts into more program countries.
Facts & Figures
- More than 350 kids and 20 teachers attend an eco-camp each year in India, Mongolia, or Kyrgyzstan
- A total almost 2,000 children have attended one of these eco-camps since they first began in 2009
- Attitudes toward wildlife among the participating kids have improved significantly each year