Snow Leopard Enterprises is an award-winning conservation program that creates sustainable economic opportunities for families who share snow leopard habitat, and reduces the motivation behind poaching.
The idea is simple: Herder women in snow leopard habitat produce unique handicrafts with the natural resources at their disposal. We buy the products from them and sell them to snow leopard supporters across the globe through wholesale partners and in our online retail store.
Families participating in Snow Leopard Enterprises can boost their income by up to 40%. In return, the entire community pledges to keep the snow leopards in their area safe from harm.
Many families who live in the remote regions where snow leopards are found are pastoralists, and they depend on their herds of livestock for food and livelihood.
Snow leopards usually hunt wild prey species, but the cats will occasionally target livestock grazing in their habitat too.
Because these families are typically living on less than $2 per day, the loss of even a single animal can create great financial hardship. Herders may retaliate against snow leopards to protect their animals, or set steel-jaw traps to stop the cats before they get too close.
Snow Leopard Enterprises was created to help address the poverty that lies at the root of the problem.
Snow Leopard Enterprises enables participants to make beautiful handmade products from the raw wool of their livestock – intricate felt rugs, hot pads, and ornaments, pet toys and more.
The Snow Leopard Trust purchases these products at mutually agreed upon prices, and sells them to supporters around the world through our online store and a network of partners.
Snow Leopard Enterprises has drastically increased the value of each herding family’s raw wool, and the money earned can boost annual household income by up to 40%. This money is used to buy food, medicine, clothing and other vital necessities.
In order for a community to participate and earn this additional income, each member must sign a conservation agreement. Every year, these participating communities review and sign an agreement that requires each person to protect the snow leopards and wild prey species living in their area from poaching.
If a participating community fulfills their collective conservation agreements, an additional cash bonus is awarded at the end of each year. However, if any poaching takes place during that time, the entire community loses the bonus. This strong financial incentive encourages the community to work together to protect snow leopards and share information with the Snow Leopard Trust and others in their region.
Regular conservation education and outreach activities are also built into the program. These activities increase awareness about snow leopards, encourage additional conservation projects initiated by Snow Leopard Enterprises participants, and provide resources and information that help reduce snow leopard predation on livestock.
All profits from the sale of Snow Leopard Enterprises products are invested right back into conservation programs that encourage communities to protect snow leopards by improving their quality of life.
Facts & Figures:
- Snow Leopard Enterprises currently works with more than 400 women from 40 communities in four countries; Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, and India.
- in Mongolia, Snow Leopard Enterprise communities actively help protect about a quarter of the country’s confirmed snow leopard habitat.
- In 2014, the program reached the milestone of $1 million in total revenue created.