Visit to the WWF - Talk on Snow Leopards
11th April, 2018
On the 11th of April the members of the Environment and Outreach council from class 9 and 10 attended a talk on Snow Leopards co-organised by WWF India and the Tiger Trust.
Mr Amit Sankhala who is the grandson of Mr. Kailash Sankhala- the founder of Tiger Trust, introduced the two keynote speakers [Dr. Koustubh Sharma and Dr. Tsewag Namgail]. Dr. Koustubh Sharma focused on the diet of a snow leopard which is actually very varied. He also told us that they can only be found in 12 countries and that they are known as the 'Ghosts of the mountains' as they are very hard to find because they can blend in to the nature. On the other hand Dr. Tsewag Namgail told us how snow leopards are beneficial for the people around because snow leopards attract tourists which means that the government has money to spend on their country. He said that snow leopards can kill all the livestock people have in villages in one night, which really caught our attention.
Every year thousands of tourists travel to the high altitudes of Ladakh in hope of seeing what is called 'The Ghost of the Mountains', the magnificent Snow Leopard. Locals know that though these beasts are of mesmerizing beauty and grace, they can also cause harm and havoc in villages. Tourism in these areas can be very beneficial to the locals, but can also leave the place in a worse condition than when they arrived.
One of the main issues with tourism in these mountains is that of littering and careless dumping of plastic and other waste. Tourists visit these parts and leave behind mess and clutter. The grazing animals that serve as prey for the snow leopards often eat and digest plastic that is left behind by tourists, which is very harmful for the animals. This also creates more unpaid work for the locals, and an untidy landscape.
However, tourism is also a source of income for the locals. They earn small amounts of money through homestays and little cafes set up along hiking paths. They can also be employed as guides or open souvenir shops. Tourism encourages development in small, underdeveloped areas and helps locals expand and innovate to create new methods to solve problems. It also promotes development through hotels and touring facilities which in turn attract more tourists and therefore more income to locals.
Mr. Ravi Singh, the CEO of WWF India spoke to us about what actions they are taking to save the snow leopard. This talk definitely broadened our knowledge on snow leopards and how animals are very important for our environment.
By Ramya Sibal- IX C and Tia Goculdas X-A