Impact of livestock vaccination on snow leopard conservation

At Snow Leopard Foundation (SLF) we build partnership with snow leopard range communities and stakeholders through various innovative interventions for improving their livelihood condition with the ultimate aim of promoting conservation. Our community based conservation program aims to develop an understanding for local communities about the link between the community support interventions and wildlife conservation. These interventions tend to make them realize the importance of balancing their monetary needs and respect for environment. One such intervention is called Snow Leopard Friendly Livestock Vaccination program. The objective of this program is to reduce livestock mortality due to diseases, improve productivity of stock and provide indirect compensation to the predation effected families.  More than a decade long research revealed that livestock mortality due to preventable disease is much higher (5-10 times) than the losses of animals due to predation. To rationalize this logic, SLF introduced this vaccination program which has been implemented bi-annually for last six years in valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. Livestock rearing is the major source of income of the high land communities. Snow Leopard Friendly Livestock Vaccination Program helps herders to protect their livestock from diseases and rear healthy animals by reducing the mortality rate. In return communities agree not to harm snow leopard and its natural prey in their respective pastures.  Under the program, community members (male and female) are trained in animal health and husbandry practices as Community Livestock Extension Workers (CLEWs). Similarly, the staff of wildlife department are trained as Ecosystem Health Workers (EHWs).  Vaccines are provided to the communities for livestock vaccination. The program is implemented through proper agreement in which the communities agree not to harm snow leopard, pay community share of vaccines and in return the project provides vaccines as per vaccination calendar and arranges trainings in animal husbandry & health. The vaccinators training program was conducted by SLF in NARC Islamabad, the training helped community members to learn about the procedures and knowledge of livestock vaccinations. The Snow Leopard Friendly Livestock Vaccination Program is being conducted through partnership between SLF-Pakistan and Community Organizations in collaboration with Parks and Wildlife and Livestock and Dairy Development Departments. More than 200,000 livestock from 20 valleys or over 7500 households are vaccinated every year by SLF in its program regions. Mass vaccination of livestock against preventable diseases proves to be cost effective and results in net economic benefit for the local communities. It gives high value for farmers as well to improve the quality of milk and other dairy products, which eventually contributes in improving their income and livelihood. They have realized that the livestock vaccination program is giving them far more advantage as compared to the predation caused by snow leopards in their valley. This effort and intervention by SLF has been acknowledged by the communities as well. Mr. Shahib Hayat, Chairman Chipurson Local Support Organization says, “The livestock vaccination controls outbreak of disease and keep health livestock and increase the productivity of the stock in terms of meat and milk. It reduces the risk of transmission of diseases from livestock to Human and Wildlife.”