Snow Leopard Enterprises is the Snow Leopard Trust’s flagship community-based conservation programme. It is also the oldest program and the largest. One more point to make; it is also another example of clever cat conservation.
The Snow Leopard Trust is managed by smart people. They appear to have decided at the outset that the only sustainable way to protect the beautiful and elusive snow leopard is to obtain the commitment of the local people living in the same place as the snow leopard and by so doing putting a stop to retaliatory killing of this wild cat when they occasionally attack livestock and much more. The herders convince others to protect the cat.
SLE buys wool handicrafts from the local people who share the high plains of the snow leopard. The deal is this: the herders can make hundreds of dollars (far more than is usual) from selling through SLE, in return the herders sign contracts in which they agree to protect the snow leopard and other wildlife.
The revenue earned by individuals has a significantly beneficial impact on their lives allowing herders to buy medicines, food and school supplies for example. Most SLE women earn around $100-$300 annually a sizeable sum for these ladies.
I believe Mrs Tuya Tseren from Mongolia made the slippers in the photo on this page.
SLE now has contracts with people in Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and the Himalayas of northern India as well as Mongolia as mentioned. It is an expanding enterprise which has reached the landmark revenue of almost $1 million (USD) in 2014.
In Mongolia, SLE is the “largest grassroots conservation program in the country involving 29 communities and covering 25,000 square kilometres of snow leopard habitat.”
It is estimated to protect 250 snow leopards – 25% of the entire snow leopard population of Mongolia.
In Kyrgyzstan where people (I presume pain-in-the-bum rich Westerners) like to trophy hunt this magnificent cat, SLE has worked with the community to obtain their agreement to deny accommodation and assistance to outsiders coming in to hunt. Brilliant.
There is a constant process of improvement in the products as SLE works with the herders to ensure their handicrafts meet the expectations of people in developed countries.
There is an online shop on the Snow Leopard Trust website. There are two other pages on PoC about clever cat conservation of this wild cat species.