Mission: Founded in 1981 in Seattle, WA, the Trust is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to protect the snow leopard and its mountain ecosystem through a balanced approach that addresses the needs of the local people and the environment.
Snow leopards range over two million square kilometers of mountain in Central Asia, including the formidable Himalayas. Experts currently estimate as few as 3,500 exist in the wild, fewer than the world''s tiger population. As an "umbrella" or keystone species, snow leopard conservation has far-reaching importance as it leads to the protection of hundreds of other plants and animals sharing the cat''s ecosystem. The International Snow Leopard Trust is the oldest and largest organization focused solely on saving this important species. The Trust works nationally and internationally to raise awareness about endangered species, and to empower people living within snow leopard range to become stewards of their environment. To this end, the Trust conducts educational outreach, scientific research, and community-based conservation.
Target demographics: protect these endangered cats and their natural habitat
Direct beneficiaries per year: Our partner communities in China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, and Pakistan - and the snow leopard of course!
Geographic areas served: five snow leopard range countries
Programs: Snow Leopard Enterprises, which provides herders with the financial assistance, logistical support, equipment, and training they need to turn raw wool into high-quality, felted products such as rugs and clothing. The Trust purchases these products directly from the herders and sells them worldwide to increase awareness about snow leopard conservation. Herders agree to help the Trust protect snow leopards, their prey, and the habitat they all share.
The Trust also helps communities establish livestock insurance programs, where herders can pay a premium to insure their goats and sheep against predation by snow leopards, bears, and wolves - making the financial impact of losing animals much easier to bear, and leading to increased tolerance towards these predators.
Through its Ecosystem Health project, the Trust also helps establish livestock vaccination programs in snow leopard habitat; lowering livestock mortality rates and helping herders further secure their livelihood.
As a film maker, I have produced many films for non-profits. You get to know the inner workings of an organization when working on their brand. When I was asked to do a film years ago for the Snow Leopard Trust, I was very impressed with the mission, vision and accomplishment of the organization. The Snow Leopard Trust does an amazing job of working with communities to help them be part of the solution in snow leopard range countries to the many threats to these cats. They really do make a difference. The staff are passionate and caring about the cats and the people.
If the snow leopards are to be saved in their native habitats, it will be because of the steady, resolute, science-based, humanitarian-focused work of The Snow Leopard Trust. Dollars go a long way in snow leopard countries, and the Trust does a terrific job of leveraging its resources using local conservationists with local knowledge to design and implement effective cat-saving programs. The Trust's international staff are rock stars in the world of wildlife conservation.
The Trust is an excellent combination of dedicated focus and smart decision making. Over the years, they have grown steadily in impact and reach through intelligent, clear-eyed long term investment of financial and social capital, with everything pointing back to the ultimate goal: healthy, sustainable population of snow leopards and their environment.