High Altitudes

Women-led livelihood enterprises

An initiative of Snow Leopard Enterprises

‘SHEN’, meaning snow leopard in the local Spitian dialect, is a conservation-friendly enterprise started in 2013 in Spiti Valley. It produces and sells handmade products to offset some of their losses caused due to wildlife. "SHEN" intends to involve the women in conservation of the wildlife in their landscape.

The Beginning

Nature Conservation Foundation and Snow Leopard Trust have been working for over 15 years on conserving the population of Snow Leopard and its prey species in the trans-Himalayan landscape of India. While various conservation initiatives carried out over the years have helped conserve the Snow Leopards, we continue to explore newer ways to strengthen our conservation focus. One such conservation initiative that has generated interest with local communities in this region is that of setting up an enterprise to produce and sell local products that could supplement their livelihood. Coupled with a strong conservation link, the enterprise could help further reinforce our sustained efforts to protect these endangered species.

A pilot project was started in 2013 with 50 women from Kibber and Chichim villages in Spiti valley, Himachal Pradesh. They named this enterprise ‘SHEN’ meaning Snow Leopard in the local Spitian dialect. The money from these products will help them offset losses caused by livestock predation by carnivores. It also helps diversify their income and participate in wildlife conservation of species like the snow leopard, wolves, fox, bharal and ibex.

So Far

The conservation efforts of the women are recorded and maintained by the group in a Conservation Diary. We have a record of 22 conservation activity stories in the diary and each year it is discussed and basis which a conservation bonus is handed to the participants. This bonus is 20% of the total making value of the products. Till 2018-19 we will have approximately contributed Rs 1,20,000 as Conservation Bonus to the women for their efforts. 

The Way Forward

SHEN intends to carry forward a collaborative enterprise model. Our stake holders will essentially be the participants , wildlife and our partners. It is open to customised collaboration models. With the inclusion of new villages and participants it seems important to collaborate with experienced partners. 

Awareness and outreach of the conservation aspect is also an ongoing important goal SHEN will be focussing on. This will help ensure a more direct conservation initiation by the women. SHEN's focus is also to empower the women with responsibility and enthusiasm to be able to take this approach and the idea to the outside communities.  

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