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In Ladakh, community-based ecotourism is helping promote positive perceptions of the snow leopard

By Mongabay- India, Mar 16, 2019 09:44:15 IST

Snow leopards in Ladakh often used to be persecuted by local communities because they preyed on livestock.

With the establishment of the Himalayan Homestay Program, a community-based ecotourism initiative, snow leopards are now seen as valuable and communities are more supportive of their conservation.

To maintain positive perceptions of snow leopards when tourism declines, the Snow Leopard Conservancy-India Trust is educating communities about the intrinsic and ecological values of the snow leopard in combination with other measures.

By Neha Jain

Catching a glimpse of the famed, elusive snow leopard while trekking the rugged and remote mountains of Ladakh may be a dream come true for wildlife seekers. However, these predators have had a bad rap among local villagers, many of whom often regarded them as pests, because of their tendency to prey on livestock — sometimes killing many in a single incident. As a result, some local livestock herders resorted to retaliatory killings of these cats.

But the perception of snow leopards appear to be changing towards a more positive light, thanks to the establishment of an innovative Himalayan Homestays ecotourism programme in the region, reports a new interview-based study. While the programme has helped change attitudes, the researchers suggest educating communities on the ecological importance of snow leopards to instill greater value for this keystone species.

“The Himalayan-Homestays Program has been instrumental in changing people’s attitude towards the snow leopard,” said Tsewang Namgail, scientist and director of the Snow Leopard Conservancy-India Trust and co-author of the study. Retaliatory killings have “completely stopped in the villages where we have our ecotourism programmes,” he added.

Ironically, “people who used to kill snow leopards in revenge, before our intervention, are today trying to attract the cat to their villages,” he revealed. “This was unthinkable 20 years ago when people wanted the snow leopard as away from them as possible.”

Listed as vulnerable by the International Union of Conservation for Nature (IUCN), around 500 snow leopards (Panthera uncia) are found in the Indian Himalayas.


Camera trap image of snow leopards in Ladakh. Photo courtesy of the SLC-IT/Panthera

To help offset losses from livestock depredation and increase tolerance towards snow leopards, the Himalayan Homestays Program (HHP), was launched in several valleys of Leh by the Snow Leopard Conservancy – India Trust in 2002 providing locals an opportunity to earn an additional source of income by hosting tourists. Locals were trained in housekeeping while youth acquired skills as guides to lead nature tours, which included possible sightings of the charismatic snow leopards.

To find out how the HHP affected local communities’ perceptions of snow leopards, the researchers interviewed 49 villagers in seven Ladakhi villages, four in the western Sham valley and three in the eastern Rong valley. Using qualitative semi-structured interviews that lasted from 15 to 60 minutes, villagers were asked if they were participants of the HHP and the values they placed on wildlife.

The team focused on three types of values: intrinsic, instrumental and economic. Intrinsic values refer to valuing nature even when it doesn’t offer any use to humans whereas aesthetic, spiritual and ecological values comprise instrumental values and economic values are based on money and market transactions.

“Himalayan Homestays, and ecotourism, in general, should provide economic value, but also ideally foster value, beyond economic, for the species itself, if that positive relationship is to persist through fluctuations in the tourism industry,” explained Kate Vannelli, lead author of the study, which was her Master’s dissertation at the University of Kent.

From pests to a source of pride

The results revealed that those who participated in the HHP (19) by hosting visitors felt a higher responsibility for wildlife compared with non-participants. They placed high instrumental value on wildlife, noted by the frequent mentions of the beauty of snow leopards during the interviews as well as a sense of pride and happiness in spotting wildlife in groups. Even those who did not directly participate by hosting visitors but had the HHP established in their community appreciated snow leopards.


Guests of the Himalayan-Homestay Program having tea in a homestay in Zanskar, where SLC-IT has various conservation programmes. Photo courtesy of the SLC-IT/Panthera

In contrast, most villagers in communities without the HHP, or other initiatives, expressed neutral or negative feelings towards wildlife, particularly frustration towards snow leopards, arising mainly from livestock depredation.

As a result, there is potential to transform the negative perceptions to more positive ones if more communities embrace the HHP and wildlife tourism, said Vannelli, director of development for the South Africa-based nonprofit, Global Conservation Corps. But she cautions that this case study is one amongst many conservation interventions, which are dependent on many factors and so “one size certainly does not fit all.”

“Incentives are crucial to change people’s attitudes and build support for conservation,” said Nabin Baral, a research associate at the University of Washington, explaining that they can be material (cash income, jobs, infrastructure, education) or non-material (values for sentient beings, altruism towards lower life forms). “As we know material incentives are finite but non-material incentives are not. While designing conservation programs, it is better if both forms of incentives are taken into consideration,” he stressed.

According to Baral who has studied snow leopard tourism in Nepal, “this study suggests to provide direct benefits at the household level to make snow leopard conservation programme successful.” However, he points out that not all households may be willing or equipped to participate and such programs may not work elsewhere because “conservation happens in varied contexts.”

“This new study underscores the significance and potential of such tourism for improving coexistence between local communities and snow leopards,” said Jonny Hanson, managing director of Northern Ireland-based organisation Jubilee. In previous studies, Hanson along with Baral found that tourists in Nepal are “willing to pay to support snow leopard conservation and that this support is also linked to tourists’ knowledge of snow leopards and their conservation values.”

Maintaining value for snow leopards if tourism drops

Another finding was that when wildlife isn’t the sole reason for income, it appears to hold the highest instrumental value. The team noted that while short-term participants of the HHP (3-7 years) held both instrumental and economic value towards snow leopards, long-term participants valued them mainly economically with a few claiming they may not appreciate snow leopards if tourism stopped.


Tsewang Namgail, director of the Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust, discussing environmental issues in Ladakh with the Buddhist Scholars of Ladakh. Photo courtesy of the SLC-IT/Panthera

“I was surprised at the clear patterns that emerged throughout the interviews, especially around the level of dependence on tourism, and how this changed the relationship with snow leopards,” Vannelli said. “There seemed to definitely be a ‘sweet spot’ in terms of economic dependence on tourism, and valuation of the snow leopard.”

As people become exclusively dependent on income from tourism, wildlife can become commoditised. “One question that we ask ourselves is whether people will get back to their old ways of persecuting snow leopards if tourism were to decline due to war,” stated Namgail. “Given that we share borders with both China and Pakistan, this has been a sustained concern.”

Baral echoes these concerns, stating that tourism is both seasonal and volatile and, he added, since nature-based tourism focused on snow leopard sightings would occur on a small-scale and is difficult because of their elusive nature, diversified livelihoods are needed.

To preserve positives attitudes towards snow leopards regardless of their value in tourism, Namgail has been educating villagers, monks and youth through workshops since 2013, on the intrinsic and ecological values of the snow leopard.

“Snow leopard can prevent flooding in the mountains. Snow leopards control the population of mountain sheep and goats, thereby preventing overgrazing and consequently enabling water retention by mountain slopes,” he explained. “As villagers have experienced these, they understand these linkages easily.”


Tsewang Namgail, director of the Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust, educating villagers about the importance of snow leopards in proper ecosystem functioning. Photo courtesy of the SLC-IT/Panthera



Vannelli, K. Hampton, M.P. Namgail, T. & Black, S. A. (2019). Community participation in ecotourism and its effect on local perceptions of snow leopard (Panthera uncia) conservation, Human Dimensions of Wildlife, DOI: 10.1080/10871209.2019.1563929


Mongabay-India is an environmental science and conservation news service. This article has been republished under the Creative Commons licence.

Updated Date: Mar 16, 2019 09:44:15 IST

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New Zealand mosque terror attacks: Nine Indian-origin people feared missing after shootings, MEA offers 'complete assistance'

By Asian News International, Mar 16, 2019 09:16:36 IST

At least nine Indian nationals or people of Indian origin are feared missing in New Zealand following the deadly terror attacks at two mosques in Christchurch which killed 49 people

Narendra Modi strongly condemned the terrorist attack stating that hatred and violence have no place in diverse and democratic societies

Sushma Swaraj condemned the dastardly terror attack and put out the helpline numbers of the Indian High Commission in New Zealand tagging High Commissioner Sanjiv Kohli for Indians requiring assistance

New Delhi: At least nine Indian nationals or people of Indian origin are feared missing in New Zealand following the deadly terror attacks at two mosques in Christchurch which killed 49 people, unofficial sources said.

Forty-nine people have been reported killed so far and at least 48 others have been wounded in the twin shootings according to New Zealand police, which said it has taken four people into custody — three men and one woman. One person was later released.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly condemned the terrorist attack stating that hatred and violence have no place in diverse and democratic societies. In a letter to New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern, Modi expressed India's solidarity with the people of New Zealand at this difficult time.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj condemned the dastardly terror attack and put out the helpline numbers of the Indian High Commission in New Zealand tagging High Commissioner Sanjiv Kohli for Indians requiring assistance. "Any Indian requiring assistance should contact Indian High Commission in New Zealand on 021803899 or 021850033" Swaraj said.


File image of External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. Reuters

In his Twitter account (unverified) Kohli said, "As per updates received from multiple sources there are 9 missing persons of Indian nationality/ origin. Official confirmation still awaited. Huge crime against humanity. Our prayers with their families." Official confirmation about Indian casualties may take a while to come in.

MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, "Our Mission is in touch with local authorities to ascertain more details. It is a sensitive matter and therefore we can't give confirmed numbers/names till we are absolutely certain."

"Assistance is being provided to the next of kin of those affected in getting appropriate visa to New Zealand. We will keep you updated as and when we have additional information," diplomatic sources said.

Meanwhile, one person in Hyderabad Khurshid Jahangir told ANI that his relative Ahmed Jahangir was injured in the shooting."My brother was injured and is now recovering in a hospital. He is currently undergoing surgery. We have seen in the video he has been shot in the chest. We're trying to reach the Embassy."

Another person Mohammed Sayeeduddin, father of Farhaj Ahsan who is missing since shootings in Christchurch told ANI, "My son went to the mosque to offer Friday prayers and has not returned yet. About 17 people are still missing. Request government to find about the whereabouts and well being of my son."

Asaduddin Owaisi, President of All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen Party and Member of Parliament tweeted about the incident "A video from #ChristChurch shows one Ahmed Jehangir who was shot. His brother Iqbal Jehangir is a resident of Hyderabad & would like to go to NZ for Ahmed’s family," said Owaisi requesting the Working President of TRS and Swaraj for visa assistance to the family.

"I request @KTRTRS @TelanganaCMO @MEAIndia @SushmaSwaraj to make necessary arrangements for the Khursheed family, " Owaisi said in a tweet followed by passport details of the injured person's brother. This was followed by another tweet where he thanked Swaraj for personally updating him about MEA’s efforts in assisting Ahmed’s & Ahsan’s families to reach New Zealand.

Two men from Vadodara in Gujarat are also feared missing after the Christchurch attacks. Their family has sought help in tracing them.

In the worst ever terror attack in New Zealand, multiple gunmen carried out indiscriminate shootings at two mosques in Christchurch during the Friday prayers, leaving 49 people dead and at least 48 wounded, besides giving a scare to the Bangladesh cricket team which had a narrow escape.

Using automatic weapons, the gunmen launched a "well-planned" attack on the mosques when devotees had assembled for the weekly prayers. The Bangladesh cricket team members, who were in New Zealand for the third Test match with the hosts, had a narrow escape as they were barred from getting off their bus when they arrived to offer prayers at the Al Noor mosque which was attacked. Meanwhile, the Test scheduled to start on Saturday was cancelled with immediate effect.

According to the police, 41 people were killed at Al Noor mosque and seven at Linwood mosque while one injured died in a hospital. One of the perpetrators live-streamed his gruesome act for about 17 minutes. Several guns have been recovered from both mosques, while, two explosive devices were found on two vehicles at the scene, one of which was defused, the police confirmed.

A man, in his late 20s, has been charged with murder and will appear in Christchurch court on Saturday. Two others arrested at the scene with guns are being investigated. A fourth person arrested may have had nothing to do with the attack, police said. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that at least one attacker is an Australian citizen.

Condemning the terror strike, Ardern described it as a “terror attack” and said it “appears to have been well planned”. She asserted that New Zealand “will not and cannot be shaken” by this attack.

Updated Date: Mar 16, 2019 09:16:36 IST


Senior Billi
So as per SBI, using a debit card at their ATM is risky, but withdrawing money through App+SMS banking is secure? I wish there was a way to ensure one's account is never added to schemes such as these. YONO Cash: Now, SBI customers can get money from ATM without card
Need intervention [rules] implemented by independent body with suitable powers in the context of consumer protection laws.

While bank card fraud and banking fraud generally has naturally increased, banks generally lag behind in security measures, and continue to increase opportunities for fraud by implementing such things. Like "tap to pay" without entering PIN.


Senior Billi
Who remembers this film? :) (Pic showed up on VK History Porn page, with the story of how the tiger came to be named Richard Parker.)

[tr.google translation from Russian]
Richard Parker.

In 1838, American writer Edgar Poe wrote The Tale of the Adventures of Arthur Gordon Pym. It tells how after the shipwreck, the four survivors were on the high seas. Driven to despair by hunger, three of them kill and eat the fourth. In the book, his name is Richard Parker.
In 1884, the ship "Mignonette" suffered a shipwreck. The four survivors, like the heroes of Edgar Poe, were in the same boat. After many days wandering around the sea, mad of starvation, three kill and eat the fourth. The name of this fourth turned out to be Richard Parker.

A year later, Sorge spoke on the subject of miraculous and mystical coincidence of name and fate, and the last time about this was quite recently - in January 2016.

Actually, and for the sake of which I decided to talk again about this unfortunate eaten Richard Parker? Soon learn, but for now a little chronology.

On May 19, 1884, the Mignonette yacht came out of Southampton to Sydney with a crew of four: Captain Thomas Dudley, Assistant Captain Edwin Stevens, Sailor Edmund Brooks and Jung Richard Parker, who was 17 years old at the time of departure, and had no experience in the sea no
I must say that the Mignonette is a small 16-meter boat, not intended for ocean crossings.

On July 3, 1600 miles north-west of the Cape of Good Hope, the yacht began to drift, a storm began, a wave struck the side and she began to sink. The captain realized that the boat was doomed and ordered to leave the ship. The Mignonette sank in five minutes, and the four sailors found themselves in a boat in some navigation devices, two cans of canned turnips and without water ...

On July 13, when the turnip "stretched in time" was still over, and the captured turtle was eaten with the bones, they began to drink their own urine.

On July 16 or 17, they spoke for the first time that someone should be eaten to save others.

July 20, Parker began to drink seawater and fell ill.

On July 21, they talked about the lot, to whom to be eaten, but they did not take the decision.

On July 23 or 24, Parker fell into a coma, and Dudley discussed with Stevenson that he should kill the guy and drink his blood before he died. Brooks later claimed that he did not agree, Dudley said that Brooks blinked at him in agreement ... In general, Stevens killed Parker.

July 29, they were picked up by the German barque "Montezuma," and did not try to hide the uneaten remains of Parker.

On September 6, the Germans landed the Falmouth saved in English. Dudley and Stevens noted at the customs, reported on the lost ship and did not hide anything. They believed that they were protected by maritime custom, according to which they were allowed by lot to eat one of them in distress in order to save the others.

And there was a trial.

The peculiarity of the situation was, however, in the fact that there was no lot just. And it turned out that for the sake of survival, it was acceptable that they killed and ate the young boy, but the murder turned out to be premeditated, and therefore punishable. The jurors consulted and said that ... they do not know whether the sailors are to blame or not, and let the court understand them without them. After much controversy and debate, the jury nonetheless found Dudley and Stevens guilty of premeditated murder by prior agreement and sentenced to death with a recommendation for clemency.

Then there was an appeal, they say, they were killed under the pressure of circumstances, they were not at all guilty. The court, however, did not justify them, although it replaced the death penalty with half a year in prison.
In fact, they were forgiven: maritime custom and all that.
Legally - they were found guilty, regardless of sea custom and all that.

Thus, one of the most important common law precedents was created:
Necessity is not a defense for murder charges.

I almost forgot: you remember the name of the tiger in "Life of Pi"?
Yes, yes, his name was Richard Parker.