The status of the snow leopard in Pakistan and its conflict with local farmers

Shafqat Hussain a1p1
a1 C/O AKRSP, Forestry Section, P.O. Box 610, Sadpara Road, Skardu, Baltistan, Northern Areas, Pakistan


Between 1998 and 2001 I carried out surveys in four areas in the Baltistan district of the Northern Areas of Pakistan to estimate the population of the snow leopard and to examine the threats to its future conservation. I estimate that a total of 36–50 snow leopards are present in the areas surveyed. Based on the availability of suitable snow leopard habitat and of its prey species, I estimate that 90–120 snow leopards are potentially present in Baltistan and 300–420 throughout its range within Pakistan's borders. Although this estimate is higher than extrapolations based on earlier surveys, the long-term future of the snow leopard is under threat. This is mainly due to retaliatory killings by farmers, and poaching for pelts and other body parts. Species-focused conservation policies, particularly those targeting ungulates for the promotion of trophy hunting, may constitute an additional threat to snow leopard conservation in the region. However, all forms of threats to the snow leopard in Baltistan appear to emanate from the relatively poor economic conditions of the local people.

(Received March 23 2001)
(Revised June 7 2001)
(Accepted September 26 2002)

Key Words: Central Karakorum; farmer-wildlife conflict; livestock predation; snow leopard; Uncia uncia; Western Himalayas.

p1 Present address: School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511, USA. E-mail: shafqat.hussain@yale.edu