Livestock Depredation by Predators is a Leading Cause of Human-Wildlife Conflict
In the high mountains of Asia, when a snow leopard, wolf, lynx, or bear attack livestock, a human-wildlife conflict is all but inevitable.
Shepherding, especially in the high altitudes of the Himalayas, Tien Shan, or the Pamirs is incredibly tough work. Our teams have worked with communities on the front-lines of snow leopard territory for close to two decades.
However, much of the money that has gone into community based conservation has come from tourism. Now with COVID-19 all but destroying local tourism based livelihoods, conflict between humans and wildlife has seen a huge uptick.
A live snow leopard trapped in a corral, exhausted after killing 35 sheep & goats. Thanks to years of conservation work and education, the villagers turned the snow leopard over to the wildlife department without hurting it in retaliation. It was later set free.
Just over 6 months in 2020, there have been at least 7 documented attacks by snow leopards, lynxes, and wolves on corrals and animal pens in Ladakh, India, leading to the loss of over 250 domestic animals.
Every time a predator gets into a corral, it usually ends up killing all the animals inside due to its predatory instinct. This not only leads to a devastating financial losses for shepherds who exist on the frontiers of society, but many times leads to the death of the predator itself due to retaliation. Over 400 snow leopards are killed annually across snow leopard range countries.
Simply upgrading existing corrals with chain-link fencing on a welded iron frame can prevent predators getting into a corral at night. This critical step prevents the massacre of livestock and prevents snow leopards from being killed. In places where no corrals exists, such as transitional and seasonal high pasture camps, we will build chain-link corrals.
Nomadic communities across the high Tibetan plateau of the Changthang in Ladakh, India and semi-nomadic communities across the Tien Shan in Kyrgyzstan are the beneficiaries of this project. Dozens of nomadic settlements, high camps, and seasonal pastures across this landscapes have no corrals or pens that can guarantee the safety of animals at night.
A snow leopard or wolf entering an unsecured corral can be devastating to a family. On average, most corrals house between 30-50 sheep or goats. With a value of over $100 per animal, this could be over a $5,000 loss for a family – far beyond their annual income. If you suffered this sort of loss – what would you want to do to the predator that killed your herd?
Solution Implementing Capability
The High Asia Habitat Fund’s coalition of conservationists and wildlife experts have worked with communities at the forefront of human-wildlife conflict in India and Kyrgyzstan for close to two decades. Our teams operate in some of the harshest conditions with great rates of success. With decades of high-altitude experience in conservation, remote-area projects and infrastructure management, and deep links with local communities, our crews are uniquely skilled to tackle this infrastructure project.
Funds will be spent on building predator proof corrals where humans and snow leopards are routinely in conflict in the Ladakh region of India as well as in the Tian Shan mountains in Kyrgyzstan. We will leverage our ranger teams and expedition crews to build these alongside prominent nonprofits in the area.
The majority of the funds will be utilized in material costs for chain-link fencing, concrete, and structural modifications and a portion of the funds will also be used to hire work-teams from the local communities, thus generating more local livelihoods at a time when all tourism related jobs have dried up. On average, it costs it roughly $500 to build a predator proof corral that can secure 400 sheep and goats. This protects the herds of 3 or 4 families and keeps snow leopards and wolves out of trouble.
We conduct a loss survey before a pen is upgraded to document livestock losses incurred within a corral in the past five years. Once a corral is upgraded, we conduct an annual site-assessment to ensure it is functioning as required and resurvey the family on losses incurred. This allows us to improve our infrastructure models, making them more secure while reducing unneeded expenses. We differentiate between depredation losses in the field vs in the corral. Every predator-proof corral built or upgraded is photographed and geo-tagged.
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