Snow leopard conservation brings socioeconomic benefits to Rumbak village

#1 Feb 19th, 2018, 23:25
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Tashi Tsonma of Rumbak Village fetches hot water from a solar heater. (Photo by Sharada Balasubramanian)

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Past a vast expanse of brown, barren ridged mountains crowned in snow, glaciers, icicles and cold streams from snow melt, a narrow winding road leads to Rumbak village within the Hemis National Park in Ladakh. Rumbak, which hosts the critically endangered snow leopards in its vicinity, is also home to nine Ladakhi farmer households.

On reaching the end of a bumpy road, the villagers get off their vehicle and open a barricade. “There is no road from here. You have to walk for 10 km to reach the village,” says 33-year-old Tsewang Gyaltsan, a villager from Rumbak. With no medical and transport facilities in this remote village, he recalls taking his pregnant wife to Leh three months ahead of delivery.

Mules are the villagers’ only vehicles. From the point where the road ends, people mount sacks of flour, vegetables and other groceries on their mules. “The mules carry our gas cylinders too,” Gyaltsan told VillageSquare.in. They carried the solar panels to electrify the village. In fact, the panels were designed according to the carrying capacity of the mules.

Loss of livestock

The villagers in this region face not just the harsh terrain and weather, but also constant conflict with snow leopards that take away their livestock. “Normally, villagers lose 2% to 6% of income to livestock depredation; this number varies across regions,” Tsewang Namgail, director of Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust (SLC-IT) told VillageSquare.in.

The key issue among villagers is losing their livestock. Snow leopards do not kill one, but all the livestock. There is a myth among Ladakhis that snow leopards drink only blood and do not eat the flesh.

“To mitigate this conflict, we thought that the number of livestock and livestock owners should be reduced,” said Jigmet Takpa, chief conservator of forests, Leh. For instance, if 10 people were into livestock business, only one or two should maintain livestock. This would be possible only if villagers had an alternate livelihood.
Villagesquare.in
#2 Feb 26th, 2018, 00:41
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aarosh,

Only some of the text is reproduced - folks should press the link to Villagesquare.in for the full story

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