Namsei (Angsai) is the focus of ShanShui Conservation Center’s community-based conservation project in Sanjiangyuan National Park. Local people are involved with the setting up and monitoring of camera traps to help build a better understanding of the wildlife in this special place. Involving the local community helps to build a shared appreciation of the richness of the biodiversity and the need to protect it.
Given the pressure of overgrazing on the Tibetan Plateau, it is likely that the local people will be asked to reduce the number of yak in their herds. This has consequences for their already relatively low incomes and threatens their way of life. Many of the young people in the Valley of the Cats would like to stay but if incomes fall, they will be forced to leave for the city to earn a living. Wildlife watching tourism has the potential to help offset the reduction in income associated with reduced numbers of yak and thus could enable these families to stay in the valley and maintain their traditional way of life.
The arrangements for wildlife watching tourism have been put in place in full consultation with the local government and the local community and will continue only if the community is fully supportive.
About ShanShui Conservation Center 关于山水自然保护中心
Shanshui Conservation Center is a major Chinese non-governmental organization based at Peking University. Founded in 2007 by Professor Lu Zhi, it focuses on community-based conservation on the Tibetan Plateau, in particular in the Sanjiangyuan (source of the three great rivers – Mekong, Yangtze and Yellow) region. Since 2009, the local government, Peking University and Shanshui have been collaborating on a Snow Leopard research and conservation project, aiming to protect the population through targeted action, including long-term community-based monitoring, population and threat assessments. The township of Namsei (Angsai), located in the county of Zaduo, in Yushu Prefecture has been chosen to be one of the main pilot areas for these actions.
The world snow leopard population is estimated at around 4,510-7,350, and in recent decades the number has decreased, primarily due to habitat loss, reduced prey, poaching and retaliatory killing. The snow leopard is listed as vulnerable (to extinction) by IUCN. Snow leopards originated from Tibetan Plateau 2.7-3.7 million years ago, and are now distributed over the Tibetan Plateau and central Asian mountainous region, and their habitat strongly overlaps with livestock.
China has 60% of world’s snow leopard’s population. Zaduo/Zadoi county is located in the core of the Tibetan Plateau and is the origin of one of the world’s greatest rivers, the Mekong. Research has shown that Zaduo/Zadoi has over 20,000 km 2 of snow leopard habitat, around 1/4 of Qinghai Province’s suitable habitat, and is therefore one of the best areas for snow leopards protection.
Snow leopards face similar threats all over the world, but these threats have varied over time. From the 1950s to the beginning of this century, snow leopards suffered from poaching. In recent decades, with conservation efforts, poaching is more under control. However, poaching and so-called retaliatory killing – when local people kill snow leopards for taking livestock – still happen. And other factors such as grazing pressure and grassland degradation that cause a decrease in prey also affect snow leopards.
Our Mandate 使命
Since 2013, the local government, Peking University and Shan Shui Conservation Center together launched a snow leopard research and conservation project, hoping to protect the snow leopard population through targeted action such as long-term monitoring, population and threat assessment, and cooperation with the local community. Since the snow leopard is a flagship species for Sanjiangyuan (Three Rivers Origin), the
conservation efforts are an important priority.
1、 Ecological Monitoring 野生动物社区监测
Based on 5km x 5km squares, 80 camera traps have been set up in 1750 km 2 of Angsai at an elevation of c5000m. These camera traps are operated and maintained by 80 local yak herders trained by ShanShui. In 2017, these camera traps effectively captured over 200,000 photos.
2、 Anti-poaching Patrol 反盗猎巡护
The project organizes herders for long-term anti-poaching patrol. Up to the end of 2017, the project has conducted over 400 patrols, covering 5000 km distance. Since 2016, no signs of poaching have been found in Angsai.
3、 Human-animal Conflict Fund 人兽冲突基金
The governmental compensation fund for snow leopard-live stock killing is not well-implemented. Therefore, retaliatory killing still exists. Since 2016, with the combined efforts of the local government, Shan Shui and the local community, the project has established a 240,000 RMB ($40,000) “Snow Leopard Insurance Fund” in Angsai Niandu village. As of end of 2017, the fund has compensated 222 snow leopard-live stock killings, which has helped to minimize the conflict between herders and snow leopards and ameliorated their attitudes towards wildlife.
4、 Stray Dogs Management 流浪狗管理
Due to the collapse of the previously strong market for Tibetan mastiffs and urbanization, stray dogs have become a potential threat to snow leopards, competing for food and spreading disease. To control this threat, the project has established a stray dogs sterilization and immunization programme since 2016.