No cats or prey were hunted in the Kyrgyz partner communities in 2014

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The Kyrgyz team takes an adventurous trip to the mountains to reward local communities for their role in protecting snow leopards and endangered prey species.


Partner snow leopard communities in the Tian Shan Mountains in Kyrgyzstan protected cats and prey in their region throughout 2014, earning a conservation bonus for their efforts.

The isolated Kyrgyz mountain communities of Ak Shyrak, Enilchek and Uch Koshkon sits literally at the end of the road, just outside the Sarychat Ertash Nature Reserve, the country’s main snow leopard stronghold.

Kyrgyzstan’s snow leopards are protected by communities that share their habitat

As the last outpost of civilization before the mountain wilderness, these villages could be privileged places for poachers and hunters to congregate and restock.

Instead, they have become essential partners in conservation!

The three communities agreed to protect the cats and their wild prey species in the areas surrounding the villages, while earn a sustainable income through the sale of Snow Leopard Enterprises handicrafts they make wool from their cattle.

Snow Leopard Enterprise craftswoman Abdyldaeva Chynar from Uch Koshkon shows off the fruits of her labor
Snow Leopard Enterprise craftswoman Abdyldaeva Chynar from Uch Koshkon shows off the fruits of her labor

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Each year the communities are entitled to a bonus if no snow leopard or any species of wild prey has been injured in their areas.

In 2014, as in the previous 5 years, no poaching was reported in areas around our partner communitiesSays Kuban Jumabai uluu, Snow Leopard Trust program director in Kyrgyzstan.

A past incident ends up strengthening the program

The latest incident dates back to 2008, when a community member helped guide trophy hunters to the nearby Sarychat-Ertash nature reserve, where they slaughtered protected ungulates.

The whole community bonus was withheld after this incident. Community members then decided that the guilty party should pay off the premium for each family instead of. “This measure has certainly worked. Since then, cats and prey have been safe in these communities, ”says Kuban,“ so we are more than happy to have been able to pay these families their well-deserved bonus again in 2014!

Paying a bonus can seem like a fairly easy transaction. But in this case, it involved an adventurous trip to one of the most remote corners of the country.

SLE's Cholpon Abasova (right) counting a community bonus payout
SLE’s Cholpon Abasova (right) counting a community bonus payout

“The inhabitants of these communities do not have a bank account, so all payments are made in cash, in person, ”explains Cholpon Abasova, who coordinates Snow Leopard Enterprises in Kyrgyzstan.

a proud recipient of a conservation certificate
a proud recipient of a conservation certificate

Thus, in order to reward these local conservation heroes, Cholpon and Kuban visited the 3 partner villages in February.

“In addition to giving out bonuses, we also wanted to recognize a handful of longtime community conservation activists for their outstanding effortsSays Cholpon. Six community members from the three villages were selected and received a special certificate that the team had created for this purpose.

The roads are full of snow this time of year, but the team did not want to wait until spring to visit the communities.

The trip turned out to be quite an adventure: “At one point I really thought we were stuck and had to spend the night outside in the cold,” recalls Cholpon.

“It was only because of Kuban’s experience on these roads in difficult conditions that we got out of them,” she said.

“These people work hard all year round to help protect the snow leopards,” Kuban said, after the team returned safely to the capital, Bishkek. “Such a trip is nothing compared to what they do.

"Road" may be a relative term in the Kyrgyz mountains - but Kuban is prepared!
“Route” may be a relative term in the Kyrgyz mountains – but the Kuban is prepared!


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