Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured
SLE began with a handful of herders. Today, it has 250 participants across 26 communities covering an estimated 50,000 sq km of snow leopard habitat. In 2010 SLE families earned about $105 (>3% of the national per capita GDP) and each community earned an average of $186 in bonus monies. This offset livestock losses to snow leopard predation, which were about $124 per household. Last year 21 women received micro-credit loans and the repayment rate was 81.4%.
More than 90% of SLE participants are women, and surveys show SLE is contributing to female empowerment in three main ways:
1. Pride: Many SLE participants identify ‘having a job’ or ‘learning a skill’ as important reasons for belonging to SLE.
2. Respect: Women have wider spending choices, giving them more control over their own and their families’ lives. This helps them gain respect from the wider local community.
3. Voice: Making decisions on environmental matters is an area traditionally dominated by men, and one from which women have largely excluded. Through SLE women are attending workshops, discussing ways to improve SLE’s conservation links, and using SLE’s small grants for community conservation projects.
Snow Leopard Enterprises is also protecting snow leopards and their prey. Since SLE’s inception, there has only been one case of snow leopard poaching in a participating community. A small handful of key prey species have been killed (<20), and all communities involved with these incidents had their bonuses withheld.
How will your project evolve over the next three years?
We plan to develop new products and grow our sales outlets in order to sell more products and increase our ability to include more herders in conservation. We hope to reach the specialty pet market with more products specifically targeted for domestic cats and dogs (who seem to love the smell of our wool). We are also targeting US schools who use our snow leopard curriculum in their classrooms. Our curriculum contains a service learning component that guides children to sell SLE handicrafts to raise money for snow leopards and their school. Having just piloted the curriculum, we believe this is a large area for growth. Finally, we will create a strong internal market by working with tourist companies, the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce, and other interested organizations.