Livestock Insurance Scheme: An effort to protect Snow Leopards in Gilgit-Baltistan

Ejaz Hussain

Gilgit-Baltistan is home of three biggest mountain ranges including Karakoram, Hindukush and great Himalaya. These mountains provide habitat for a rich wildlife biodiversity. The ragged mountains of Gilgit-Baltistan are home to large mammals like ibex, Marco polo sheep, musk deer, Markhor , blue sheep ,Snow leopard, Brown bear, Hamalayan lynx, Black bear, fox and leopard cat etc. These wildlife species on one side increase the esthetic value of the area on the other play vital role in balancing fragile mountain ecosystems. Form last two decades people exploiting wild ungulates through using dangerous weapons which cause human-carnivore interaction, consequentially livestock depredation and communities trend increase towards killing of wild animals. It is need to increase the awareness among masses regarding functions and values of  wildlife can eventually lead to decrease conflict between people and wildlife.

Gilgit-Baltistan endowed with highly productive rangeland account for 1.68 million ha of total area on which local communities (shepherd) depends for livestock rearing to meet the basic requirements of their daily life. Extensive livestock rearing practices often causes decreasing prey species resulting in most of the areas of Gilgit-Baltistan snow leopard human conflict occur.

Introduction of livestock insurance scheme  can be a tool for sustainability of wild beast in nature. Formation of livestock insurance scheme among the herder of village that each member (herder) will get insurance of  their livestock by paying appropriate money (fee) decided by village conservation committee. The insurance amount can be deposited in a joint account of conservation committee. In case of loss of animal by snow leopard or any other carnivore, herders can be partially compensated to minimize their loss. This strategy will enhance livestock insurance while increase the population of critically endangered species of snow leopard and other wild animals, ultimately reduce  conflict between human and snow leopard. Financial compensation of the livestock rarer, occasionally prevent illegal poaching of the wild beast will at last release human pressure on snow leopard.

Wildlife department, World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P) and Snow Leopard Foundation (SLF) can play their role in sustainable conservation of this key stone specie by introducing livestock insurance scheme on village level. insurance scheme of  livestock  can be initially demonstrate in a selected  model village will be replaced on other potential sites for implementation.

The contributor is a Gilgit based development practitioner.

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  1. This article reflects on an important tool for conservation. Project Snow Leopard (Baltistan Wildlife Conservation and Development Organization) has introduced the insurance scheme in 1999 in G-B ( I would like to suggest that WWF and SLF draw on PSL’s experience just as PSL can learn from SLF’s experience with the vaccination scheme programme. It would be wonderful if all organizations that care about snow leopard conservation in G-B could coordinate and work together, including in trying to raise the funds necessary to run these schemes as well as provide conflict mitigation measures.
    Last but not least communities themselves in G-B that have been part of insurance scheme programmes should take the credit for providing inspiring examples of conservation that resonate worldwide. There are no words to express how thankful we, who care about snow leopards and other difficult animals to live with, should be for that.

    1. Thanks credits also goes to Tajadar Bhai . His suggestion and timely guideline enable me to write on the topic

  2. Nice article. I think the idea of incentive based conservation suits in this region where community being the primary stakeholder is mainly agro-pastoral dependent.

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