Pastoralists and their livestock share much of the habitat of the snow leopard (Uncia uncia) across south and central Asia. The levels of livestock predation by the snow leopard and other carnivores are high, and retaliatory killing by the herders is a direct threat to carnivore populations. Depletion of wild prey by poaching and competition from livestock also poses an indirect threat to the region's carnivores. Conservationists working in these underdeveloped areas that face serious economic damage from livestock losses have turned to incentive programs to motivate local communities to protect carnivores. We describe a pilot incentive program in India that aims to offset losses due to livestock predation and to enhance wild prey density by creating livestock-free areas on common land. We also describe how income generation from handicrafts in Mongolia is helping curtail poaching and retaliatory killing of snow leopards. However, initiatives to offset the costs of living with carnivores and to make conservation beneficial to affected people have thus far been small, isolated, and heavily subsidized. Making these initiatives more comprehensive, expanding their coverage, and internalizing their costs are future challenges for the conservation of large carnivores such as the snow leopard.
Conservation Biology 17:1512-1520